Back to the (Marriage) Future

The last real blog post here discussed wedding insurance. In the course of another research project, I came across an interesting letter from the Department of Insurance in Lansing, MI dated April 9, 1931. The letter discussed speculation in marriage futures.

You have submitted to this Department a Specimen of a Contract. . . which
certificate has the form of an insurance policy. . . .The object of the
corporation, as expressed in its articles, are 'to encourage marital relations
by aiding prospective candidates for matrimony, to provide funds therefor and to
enter into contracts in relationship to the same in the state of Michigan, and
elsewhere in the United States of America and the Dominion of Canada.'

You request an opinion from this Department as to whether the proposed
contract is an insurance policy and therefore subject to the jurisdiction of the Insurance Department.
The marriage speculation insurance appears to have been set up like a fraternal benefit society. Members paid in and then received funds for their wedding once they got married. Unlike Fraternals though, the marriage contracts didn't seem to meet the criteria of insurance.

The Michigan Division's letter goes on to describe the definition of insurance citing case law and Couch on Insurance. It also makes clear that marriage "insurance" is not new, there was a case in Alabama on marriage insurance which found such a contract void (in this case the contract paid more the longer you postponed your wedding). Similar cases had the same findings in Pennsylvania, Indiana and Maine.

If you are interested in seeing the letter in full, please feel free to contact the library. We also have some information on the history of fraternal benefit societies in general.