logo - Join me in the 1900s early C20th
Florence Cole as a child

The insurance man visits
homes in the early C20th

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When I was a child in the early 1900s, most working-class people had life insurance because it was a dreadful stigma for there not to be enough money for a proper funeral. The insurance started as soon as a new baby was born, when the parents who could afford it would take out what was called a penny policy.

There was also insurance for the contents of the house but not for the house itself because all the houses where I lived on the Huxley Estate in Edmonton (now Enfield) were rented, not owned.

If you have an old photo which illustrates the way of life described here, I would very much appreciate a copy.

 Pat Cryer, webmaster

An agent from the insurance company would call at the house every month to collect to the money, and he (never she) would enter the payment into a book that he carried.

Agents were paid on commission. So a successful agent had to have an outgoing personality, seem trustworthy and have a persuasive tongue. He made it his business to know wherever there was a new baby and would do his utmost to get the business ahead of other agents.

After a certain number of years the penny policy would be free.

Our insurance man was Mr Clarke. My mother said time and time again what a nice man he was. Little did I know then that I would later marry his second son, Len. Len tended to keep himself to himself, so would never have had the outgoing personality to be an insurance agent. His sister, Doris, on the other hand, who was always ready with a smile and a "good morning" did join her father at the Prudential.

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