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This Month in Business History

Homeowners Insurance

Samuel H. Gottscho, photographer. Insurance Co. of North America, Arch St., Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. View I. 1962. Library of Congress Prints & Photographs Division.

In September 1950 the Insurance Company of North America (INA), the largest and oldest company of its kind in the United States, introduced a profoundly innovative idea that transformed the insurance industry. Incorporated in 1794, INA merged with Connecticut General Corporation in 1982 to form CIGNA Corporation.

INA's new multiline or package homeowner's policy offered coverage for almost anything that could happen to a house and cost 20% less than the combined premiums on separate policies homeowners had to buy for similar coverage.1 Newspaper ads that promoted the new policy in early 1950s read:

  • "Brand-new idea in insurance! The new Homeowners Policy of the North America Companies protects you against loss caused by fire, theft, lightning, wind, explosion, hail, riot, vehicle damage, vandalism and smoke."2
  • "Here, in a single policy, homeowners are provided with essential insurance at a price considerably less than the four separate policies it replaces."3

The estimated cost for a five-year policy under the new "package" in 1950 ranged between $88 and $100 while separate policies would cost $125.4 The new package policies were an immediate success with homeowners for the cost savings and simplicity. They were also welcomed by insurance agents as they were easier to explain and sell to consumers.

The event had a tremendous impact not only for the insurance industry, but for banking, savings and loan, and the home building industries as well. This protection for homes and businesses, offered by the new comprehensive policies, provided more security to lenders' financial stakes in real estate market. The less expensive coverage made home ownership affordable to many Americans which in turn boosted the building industry and ultimately, the U.S. economy.

It was not long before other insurance companies followed INA's leadership into the new era of modernized and streamlined insurance.5 Today homeowners insurance is essential to protect the homeowner's assets from fire, theft, and increasing threats of climate-related damages. Besides, most mortgage lenders require homebuyers to have insurance for the duration of the mortgage.

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Print Resources

These titles provide more information on the history of INA and homeowners insurance as well as current consumer information. The following titles link to fuller bibliographic information in the Library of Congress Online Catalog. Links to additional online content are included when available.


These are articles on the homeowner's insurance and the history of INA.

Library of Congress Digital Resources

The following resources created and digitized by the Library of Congress that be used to find out more about the Canal as well as the events of the day.

Library of Congress Catalog Searches

Additional works on this topic in the Library of Congress may be identified by searching the Online Catalog under appropriate Library of Congress subject headings. Choose the topics you wish to search from the following list of Library of Congress subject headings to link directly to the Catalog and automatically execute a search for the subject selected. For assistance in locating other subject headings which relate to this subject, please consult a reference librarian.


  1. Landmarks in Modern American Business, edited by The Editors of Salem Press. Vol. 2, Salem Press, Inc. Pasadena, CA. pp. 343-344. Back to text
  2. Display Ad 64 -- No Title. (1954, October 31). Los Angeles Times (1886-Current File), p. B11. Retrieved February 13, 2009, from ProQuest Historical Newspapers. Los Angeles Times (1881 - 1986) database. (Document ID: 434803142). Back to text
  3. Display Ad 61 -- No Title. (1953, September 14). Wall Street Journal (1889-Current file), p. 15. Retrieved February 13, 2009, from ProQuest Historical Newspapers. The Wall Street Journal (1889 - 1991) database. (Document ID: 104565129). Back to text
  4. Thomas P. Swift. (1950, September 17). "Single Insurance Offered on Homes: Fire, Theft, Liability and Other Hazards Are Covered in Inclusive Transaction New Policy Offers in a 'Package.' Coverage of Most Home Risks." New York Times (1857-Current file),131. Retrieved February 13, 2009, from ProQues Historical Newspapers. The New York Times (1851 - 2005) database. (Document ID: 87052919). Back to text
  5. Landmarks in Modern American Business, p. 345. Back to text