After the war it became clear that life insurance service to the wage earners of the United States and Canada was the central theme of Metropolitan history. It determined the character of the company’s development as has no other single factor and its imprint is clearly marked upon the pattern of the Metropolitan’s activities.

It explains the development of the Industrial Department, which continued to be a very effective medium for meeting the insurance needs of this group. The Metropolitan was not the first company in this country to write industrial insurance.

The honor rightly belongs to the Prudential Insurance Company of America whose operations as the Prudential Friendly Society antedated those of the Metropolitan by four years. It is true, however, that the Metropolitan began to serve the wage earners of this country a full decade before the launching of its industrial business in 1879.

Within the first years of its founding, the company underwrote the low cost life insurance of a workingmen’s organization which received premiums weekly from its members and transmitted them quarterly to the Company. Thus the Metropolitan from its inception devoted special attention to working people, and has retained this as a primary and absorbing interest throughout the years.

Industrial life insurance has been variously defined. It is essentially life insurance for the great majority of people who make up the industrial or wage earning population. It took form and direction as our mighty cities grew and as more and more people became wage earners.

They had probably more need for life insurance than the better circumstanced groups, but they could buy it only in small amounts and could pay for it only out of wages usually received weekly. Experience has indicated that the families, for whom industrial insurance has been designed, generally did not find it convenient to remit the small premiums directly to the company, or found the cost of that method out of all proportion.

It was essential that someone receive the premiums each week at their homes. Here, then, is the essence of weekly premium industrial life insurance: insurance in relatively small amounts on the lives of working men and their families, paid for out of wages, to agents who personally receive the premiums weekly. Such insurance has the same objectives as ordinary insurance, but in more modest degree; and both forms are based on the same scientific principles of level premium and reserve.

In view of the pressing need of life insurance, especially no medical exam life insurance, by working people, it is surprising that this branch of the business developed so late in our insurance history. It was inaugurated in America, as we have pointed out, in 1875, by the Prudential of Newark.

Workingmen, not sought by the insurance companies, at first attempted to meet their needs through cooperative assessment societies. Unfortunately, these societies suf¬fered from the defects inherent in the assessment plan of operation, and they failed, as the assessment plan has generally failed, both in England and in America.

Following the Civil War, feeble attempts were made by one company or another to furnish insurance to wage earners, but they did not succeed, either because of the unsoundness of their plans or because they did not recognize the necessity of receiving the premiums at the homes of the insured.

The fact is that Industrial insurance did not take hold in America until the Prudential, the John Hancock, and the Metropolitan launched it, following the essentials of procedure–actuarial, managerial, and administrative–which the Prudential of London had worked out during more than 20 years of operation.

About the author

Sarah Martin is a freelance marketing writer based out of San Diego, CA. She specializes in finance, business, and low cost life insurance. For no medical exam life insurance, please visit