Insurance policies have been around for a long time. In fact they date back to the 13th and 14th Centuries as cargos of goods started being shipped from one point to another around the world.
It wasn’t until probably the 1800s when individuals, the higher crusts of course, started taking out personal health policies for accident and death. Back then as now the insurance seekers needed to read the “small print.”
Case in point. The following concerns the War Risk Insurance Bureau that was created in 1914. The United States had just entered “The Great War”, now remembered as World War I. The Risk Insurance Act was a piece of legislation passed by the U.S. Congress to insure the availability of insurance for shipping vessels and individuals in war time threats.
Established under the Treasury Department, the act provided payment for insurance policies and claims. In 1917 it was amended to create life insurance coverage available to sailors in the U.S. Merchant Marine.
Once in operation the requests and inquiries began. A February 1919 issue of The Claremore Progress contains excerpts taken from letters mailed to the War Risk Insurance Bureau by family members.
By sharing these there is no intent of embarrassing the individuals’ education or needs. One would hope the sincere requests were met. At the same time we could all agree the policy holders were checking out the “small print.”
I ain’t got no book learnce and I hope I am writing for inflammation.
She is living in a disported house.
Dear Mr. Risk, I am writing in hopes…
Just a line to you to let you know I am a widow and four children.
Previous to his departure we were married to a Justice of Peace.
He is induced to the surface.
I have a four month old baby and he is my only support.
I was discharged from army for goiter which I was sent home on.
Owning to my condition which I haven’t walked for three months for a broken leg is No. 75.
I enclose, lovingly yours
I am left with a baby seven months old and she is a baby and can’t work.
I am his wife and only air.
Please correct my name as I could and would not go under a consumed name.
I ain’t got no money since my boy went sailing over the top.
The Old Man Johnson who you sent check is dead and wants to know what to do with the check.
I have not received my husband’s pay and will be forced to lead an unmoral life.
I am a widow and all I have is my front.
You have changed my little boy to a girl. Will that make a difference?
I am writing you to know why I have never received my elopement.
I ain’t received no pay since my husband went no where.
Please send me my wife’s form.
(And my favorite)
I have been in bed 15 years with one doctor and am going to try another.
Larry Larkin is a columnist for the Claremore Progress.