Father of Insurance

Since this is the first of many of Ben’s insurance articles, a brief explanation of insurance history will help you to understand when and how this Vital business started.

According to ancient world records the Babylonians developed a system which dates back to 1750 BC and was practiced by early Mediterranean sailing merchants.  If a merchant received a loan to fund his shipment, he would pay the lender an additional sum in exchange for the lender’s guarantee to cancel the loan should the shipment be stolen.  Many years later, the inhabitants of Rhodes invented the concept of the ‘general average”.  Merchants whose goods were being shipped together would pay a proportionally divided premium which would be used to reimburse any merchant whose goods were lost during a storm or sinkage.

The Greeks and Romans introduced the origins of health and life insurance around 600AD when they organized guilds called “benevolent societies” which cared for the families and paid funeral expenses of members upon death.

Ben Franklin Helps Set Standards

Benjamin Franklin helped to popularize and make standard the practice of insurance, particularly against fire in the form of perpetual insurance.  In 1752 he founded the Philadelphia Contributionship for the Insurance of Houses from Loss by Fire.  Ben’s company was the first to make contributions toward fire prevention.  Not only did his company warn against certain fire hazards, it refused to insure certain buildings where the risk of fire was too great, such as all wooden houses

The sale of life insurance in the U.S. began in the late 1760s.  The Presbyterian Synods in Philadelphia and New York created the Corporation for Relief of Poor and Distressed Widows and Children of Presbyterian Ministers in 1759; Episcopalian priests organized a similar fund in 1769.  Between 1787 and 1837 more than two dozen life insurance companies were started but fewer than a half a dozen survived.

Prior to the American Civil War, many insurance companies in the United States insured the lives of slaves for their owners.  A record search found that Nautilus Insurance sold 485 slaveholder life insurance policies during a two-year period in the 1840s.  Apparently the insurance company trustees voted to end the sale of such policies 15 years before the Emancipation Proclamation.

As you can see, Investment Protection better known as Insurance has been made available throughout the world for centuries.  Insurance is a promise of compensation for specific potential future losses in exchange for a periodic payment and is definitely worth the expense in the event of a loss.

Until next time… stay informed and stay insured!

Jan Vitale, your Investment Protector

Vital Enterprises, LLC


History tells us that disaster strikes quickly and without warning.

That is our reality, but being the optimists that we are – we tend not to be prepared for any kind of disaster. As a society, we aren’t prepared to evacuate our neighborhoods or be confined to our homes. The question is not asked about what would happen if suddenly our basic services, such as water, gas, electricity, or telephones were cut off? Do we place too much comfort in the fact that local officials and relief workers will be on the scene after a disaster? Do we need to be more proactive and being responsible for our families?

At the end of the day, knowing what to do is your best protection and your responsibility. Learn more about being prepared on my website, Vital Enterprises, LLC. Taking a position of responsibility need not be overwhelming; however, it gets easier once you deal with four basic steps to being prepared for safety and developing a specific plan for your family.

BE Prepared

Learn what the greatest potential risk to your family may be, given your geographic location and the associated demographics. You can simply contact your local emergency management office or your local American Red Cross chapter. A list of those emergency management offices is provided on my website. By learning what your risks may be, you can prepare for the disaster most likely to occur in your area. Learn more by contacting your local emergency management office or American Red Cross chapter. Be prepared to take notes.

BE informed – ask the following:

  1. What kind of natural disasters and/or human-caused or technological disasters can affect your area.
  2. What is recommended to prepare for each kind of possible disaster?
  3. What warning signals are provided, and what are the standards of response to each?
  4. Where do you take pets if you have to move to a public shelter where they are not permitted?
  5. What special provisions are provided for special needs, elderly or disabled persons?
  6. What are the local plans for schools, hospitals and other large industries located in your area?

BE Proactive – Create a Family Disaster Plan.

Knowing what disasters are possible in your area makes it easier to talk with your family and create your own personal plan. Use the following as a sample guideline

  1. Share the information you learned from your local disaster management resource relative to the dangers of fire, severe weather, chemical spills… whatever the issue. Keep the explanations simple but remember the important details.
  2. A disaster is an extremely stressful situation that can create confusion. The best emergency plans are those with a few, easy to follow and simple to understand steps.
  3. If the treats in your area include a variety of disasters, make sure your plan includes steps specific to each type of disaster.
  4. Pick two places everyone is to meet: (1) Right outside the front door in case of a fire emergency and (2) another restaurant or well know establishment close to the home in case you cannot get to your residence.
  5. Determine how you will communicate if family members are separated , which can easily occur – remember, you don’t get to choose what time of day a disaster will happen!
  6. Designate an out-of-town relative or friend to be a central contact and make sure everyone has that person’s name, address and phone number.
  7. Make arrangements in advance for shelter if authorities require you to evacuate. Do you have local shelters? Do you have friends and family?
  8. Know what access routes are available for evacuation situations. What roads may be more likely to be blocked or closed?
  9. Plan in advance the care of your pets.

BE Cautious – Create easy to maintain checklists and contact information sheets.

Include all emergency contact information – during a disaster, there is normally not time to waste in looking up fire, police, ambulance, etc.

  1. Have a set place where this information is readily available to every family member. A laminated copy placed in childrens’  backpacks is a prudent choice.
  2. Teach family members how to turn off water, gas, and electricity at the main switches and valves and create a checklist to make sure none are missed. Painting shut-off valves with fluorescent paint is a good idea, as is attaching the necessary removal wrenches in close proximity to each of these areas.
  3. Have an annual review of your insurance policies to make sure you have adequate coverage – it is not unusual for standard policies to include any kind of “natural disaster” coverage.
  4. Have a scheduled maintenance of smoke alarms.
  5. Make sure you have a fire extinguisher on location and train everyone in the household in its use. In the best case scenario, only adults should handle and use the extinguishers.
  6. Many normal household items can become hazards themselves during certain types of disasters. Assess your home to minimize damage from flying objects, in the case of earthquakes or tornados; electrical, chemical and fire hazards are also easy to identify early on and  require inspections periodically to manage potential hazards.
  7. Maintain emergency supplies and assemble a “disaster supply kit.” Every home should have enough supplies to last at least three days, storing them in sturdy, easy to carry containers – most of which will fit in backpacks or duffel bags left in the trunk of your car.
  8. Maintaining communications can mean the difference between life and death – make sure know where you keep a portable, battery-operated radio or television, and keep a healthy supply of extra batteries
  9. Consider taking first aid and CPR classes – not only are they the basics of safety, they can be fun shared activities for you and your children.
  10. Make two photocopies of all your vital documents. Keep the originals in a safe-deposit box. Keep one copy in a designated place in your home and the second copy should be given to your “contact” friend or relative. You may want to consider the PortaVault product found on my website for easy storage of these vital documents.
  11. Maintain a current inventory of your home, garage and property. Whether written or video taped, include the serial numbers, make and model, physical description and price of purchase, if possible. Store a copy of the inventory away from the home, such as in a safe-deposit box.

BE Responsible – Monitor and Practice Your Plan

Practicing your plan will help you instinctively make the appropriate response during an actual emergency. Life changes, and with that change, it is necessary to review periodically and adjust as may be appropriate Other modifications include:

  1. Replacing stored food and water every six months to ensure freshness.
  2. Test your smoke alarm once a month.
  3. Replace batteries on all emergency items at least once a year.
  4. Replace smoke alarms ever ten years.
  5. Monitor fire extinguishers to test proper pressure, following manufacturer’s instructions for replacement or recharging.

These few tips are just a beginning to understanding and being proactive in responding to disasters. The caveat… be prepared! While this is a broad overview to get you thinking, you will probably want to read future articles will provide a more in depth coverage of specific topics

Jan Vitale, your Investment Protector