Aviva's has released some of the contents of its archives from its 309 year history, including adverts and in-house materials, with an 1891 Norwich Union staff magazine calling the insurer ‘a fairy in disguise'.
Aviva's life insurance goes back to "The Amicable Society" which claimed to be the oldest mutual life office in the world, having issued its first policy on 5 August 1706.
The policy was taken out by Nathaniel Carpenter, a 53 year old merchant who lived at St Clements Lane, Lombard Street London, with the benefit payable to his wife Sarah and costing £6 14 shillings a year, equivalent to £1,003 today.
The first group life insurance scheme was set up in 1846, by the Provident Clerks' Mutual Benefit Association, with employers paying the premiums.
The 1891 Norwich Union staff magazine described a life insurance policy as offering "provision instead of penury, prosperity instead of pinching."
The Amicable society charter said life insurance was: "... of singular use and relief to many families, by providing for great numbers of widows and orphans, who might probably be otherwise left wholly destitute".
The adverts in the archives frequently included the man as the breadwinner, with a 1923 advert asking "What provision will you make for your wife?"
Another advert, from the 1960s (pictured) asks "what would you leave them? A house or a mortgage?"
Aviva has also produced a short film showing some of the highlights of their archives.
Louise Colley, managing director, protection at Aviva said: "It's fascinating to see what an important role life insurance has played over the last three centuries, evolving from something only available to affluent members of society, to a product designed to protect people from all walks of life.
"A prospectus from 1823 advises that "the advantages of life assurance attach to every class of the community" - and this view still holds true today.
"At Aviva we believe that every family deserves protection, so it's great to see that we're continuing a legacy that started hundreds of years ago."
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