Pennsylvania Company for Insurance on Lives and Granting Annuities first showed signs of life in December 1809 when articles of association were drawn up. It obtained a formal charter on March 10, 1812 but soon after that, America went to war with Britain. The Company delayed its initial bank offerings and did not write any life policies until 1813. The mnation's first joint-stock life insurance company had gotten off to a rocky start. Things would not get easier for some decades. Early life insurers had difficulty selling whole life policies because the cost of them was prohibitively high and their marketing and sales techniques too simplistic. The Pennsylvania Company, like most early life insurers, found it easier to sell trust services and life annuities—IOUs that made an annual payment for the duration of the policyholder's life. Where life insurance protected widows and minor children from the shock of the breadwinner's early death, annuities protected individuals from the curse of superannuation, of living “too long” after their economically productive years had ended.
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