Julia Wall JWALL@NEWSOBSERVER.COM
The top eight Black insurance companies in 1925 held $141 million in policies, the equivalent of over $2 billion today. By 1973 one company, Atlanta Life Insurance, held over $346 million (also worth over $2 billion today). The insurance industry today nets over $1 trillion in premiums, essentially none of it touching the Black community because it chose integration over an industry that has the power to literally change everything. The roots of Black self-reliance lie in the insurance industry and InsureBlack will help us rediscover them. InsureBlack is a new platform that will help Black consumers connect to Black insurance agencies and agents for life, auto, health, business and various other insurance products. InsureBlack is a radical idea whose time has come.
Black insurance agencies have the power to transform Black communities, a fact well-documented in history. Black mutual aid societies laid the groundwork for the Black insurance companies that emerged in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Companies like Mississippi Life, North Carolina Mutual, and National Benefit Life became pillars of Black Wall Streets across the country. A 1956 Fortune article cited Atlanta’s Auburn Avenue as “the richest Negro street in the world.” It’s no coincidence that Alonzo Herndon’s Atlanta Life Insurance and Standard Life were located there. According to Robert Weems, a professor of business history at Wichita State University, insurance companies have a unique problem: they take in more money than they have to dole out at any given time and they must figure out how to disperse their surplus. Black insurance companies often did so by investing in the community, most prominently in mortgage loans and other community investments. As Black insurance companies declined, so did Black neighborhoods. InsureBlack is ready to reverse the tide.
Segregation forced Black people to spend with Black businesses. It also created a deep stigma and damaged Black people in ways immeasurable; so much so that Black people thought it a status symbol to obtain insurance policies from white companies, after integration. Before integration, however, white companies refused to write policies for Blacks or routinely charged them higher premiums than they did their white customers. It was this form of racism that birthed Black insurance companies and unfortunately, due to the trauma Black people faced, they made the irrational decision to undermine the Black insurers that meant so much to the community. Black consumers opted to take out their insurance with white companies and those companies pursued the top Black insurance agents to sell policies for them. InsureBlack’s mission is to reinvigorate Black insurance agencies and in doing so, shift billions back into the Black community.
InsureBlack will make it easy for consumers to find the most knowledgeable agents and products, in a way that recycles billions of Black dollars. Black consumers chose to begin supporting white insurance companies after desegregation. In this moment of history, Black consumers can make the conscious choice to pour billions back into the Black community by once again opting to take out their insurance with Black agents and agencies. InsureBlack is ready to shift the tide and will soon empower everyone to find the right agents, products and peace of mind they need. InsureBlack will change everything, one policy at a time. Click here to get a free financial and insurance planning guide from InsureBlack.