First Auto Policy Sold 110 Years Ago Today

By | February 27, 2008

Today marks a significant anniversary in the history of insurance: 110 years since the first auto insurance policy.

That policy was sold in 1898 by Traveler’s Insurance Co. to Dr. Truman Martin of Buffalo, N.Y., according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

The policy gave Martin $5,000 in liability coverage. At the time, Martin would likely have been more concerned with crashing into one of the country’s 18 million horses, rather than another of the 4,000 cars in the U.S.

Oh, how times have changed: Over a century later, cars and trucks outnumber horses 237 million to 9 million.

Martin’s 1898 policy, which gave him coverage well below what most insurers would consider appropriate, cost $12.25.

In today’s dollars, that would be about $316.25.

Today, the average car costs about $821 a year to insure.

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