Masonic Insurance In The Past
Masonic insurance is not available to Freemasons, today, through the fraternity.
However, such has not always been the case.
Prior to the advent of social security and other
governmental programs in the United States, fraternal orders provided for the
insurance needs of their members.
Fraternal orders included not only
members of the Freemason fraternity, but members of different groups which had
united because of their similar interests.
These fraternal orders included
members of unions, professional societies, savings and investment associations
Masonic Insurance in the Late 1800s
In the late 1800s, few people could afford health and life insurance.
During this time, mutual types of
insurance organizations sprang up and for a low premium, they insured people who
would otherwise not be able to afford insurance, individually.
For lack of a better word, today, to describe how these
mutual aid associations worked, we tend to classify the offerings of these
fraternal orders as Masonic insurance organizations.
However, the words "life insurance policy" as we know it
today, connote a somewhat different product than the mutual aid and benefit
associations which the majority of these fraternities, unions, societies and
associations offered at the time.
These organizations did not offer the
vast array of products with which we are now familiar. Hence, people did
not use such terms as "life insurance quotes" or "term life insurance quotes".
Most of these fraternal organizations operated on slightly different variations
of a popular assessment system used during that time. (The basic assessment
system is discussed later in this page.)
Each of these Masonic insurance aid and relief organizations provided a death benefit to the widows and surviving family of members of the
mutual aid organization within the fraternity.
During this time, insurance for the populace in the United States was
still in its infancy. The United States experienced much internal strife
and upheaval during the late 1800s, including 3 wars, 2 of which were fought on
United States soil. (Civil War and the many ongoing Indian Wars).
Coupled with the wars, the 1800s also saw enormous
financial upheaval. Today, we speak of "The Great Depression" of the 1930s
in the United States, almost as if it had been a singular event, however
historically, the United States experienced 4 economic depressions during the
Economic Depressions: 1807 to 1929
1807-1814: President: Thomas
- Trade embargo cut U.S. imports. This led to the War
of 1812, during which time the capitol in Washington, D.C. was burned by British
1837-1844: President: Andrew Jackson
Jackson was a member of Harmony Lodge No. 1, Nashville, Tennessee, an Honorary
Member of Federal Lodge No. 1 F & A M in Washington, D.C. and Jackson Lodge No.
1, F & AM, Tallahassee, Florida. In 1822 and 1823, he served as Grand
Master of Masons in Tennessee.
- Monetary deflation brought about many business failures.
1873-1879: President: Ulysses S. Grant
- The U.S. was on the Gold Standard, however its gold
holdings were insufficient to meet the demand for money resulting from the
growth of the economy.
1893-1898: Presidents: Grover Cleveland
(1893-1897), William McKinley (1897-1901),
was made a Mason May 3, 1865 in Hiram Lodge, No. 21, A.F. & A..M. in Winchester,
- The transportation industry (railroads) underwent a
radical decline. Many of the major railroads went bankrupt.
(Philadelphia and Reading Railroad, Erie Railroad, Northern Pacific, Union
Pacific, Atchison Topeka and Santa Fe Railroad). This set off a financial
panic. Industries related to the railroads then failed.
railroads were the only real means of mass transportation of commodities at the
time, shipping became difficult and expensive. Subsequently, businesses
unrelated to the railroad industry also failed.
1929-1941: Presidents: Herbert
Hoover, (1929-1933), Franklin D. Roosevelt (1933-1945) Hoover was
made a Mason November 28, 1911 in Holland Lodge No. 8, F. & A.M. in New York,
- Deflation was caused by excess capacity. (More goods
were made than were sold.) This led to high unemployment. (1929:
3.2% was normal unemployment, 1933: 25% unemployment)
Historical Events Which Contributed To The Need for
1861-1865: American Civil War, Northern states vs. Southern states.
Much of the southern part of the United States was thrown into abject poverty
after the war ended.
1865: April 14th, President Lincoln was
1876: June 25, Indian Wars: The US 7th
Cavalry under Lieutenant George A. Custer was routed at the Battle of the Little
Bighorn. This was only one battle. The history books show 17 Indian Wars
beginning with the 1811 Battle of Tippecanoe to the Wounded Knee Massacre of
1898: Spanish-American War: On April
25, 1898 the United States declared war on Spain following the sinking of the
Battleship Maine in Havana harbor on February 15, 1898. The war ended with the
signing of the Treaty of Paris on December 10, 1898.
Wars and economic depressions were not direct causes of
the need for mutual aid and there has been no evidence found that Masonic Mutual
Aid organizations insured soldiers while they were engaged in wartime activities, however indirectly, wars decreased the number of family
members who were capable of physically and economically assisting the more
elderly members within the family unit.
Economic depressions (2
depressions, 14 years apart, each of which lasted 6 years and 5 years,
respectively) also added to the hardship experienced by widows and orphans
during this period in history.
Masonic Insurance Association Programs
The 1800s was a period which saw many wars, much bloodshed
and great loss of lives in the United States.
In this time of great need, Masonic relief organizations and other fraternal organizations met these needs by providing
aid to help the afflicted.
Masonic associations were formed to provide a form of
Masonic life insurance to provide to the widow, orphans, heir, asignee or
legatee of a deceased member as many dollars as there were members in good
standing on the books of the corporation.
Much like today's HMO's (Health Maintenance
Organizations), some fraternal insurance organizations provided medical care by
using their own doctors. Others provided medical care utilizing "society
doctors" on a fixed fee basis.
Many of these Masonic mutual aid
organizations extended aid to their members even
if the member did not have a justifiable written claim under the benefit's contractual rules.
This combination of charity with mutual aid was in keeping with the spirit of
why the fund was created rather than solely performing as contractually stated.
While most of these Masonic insurance organizations are no longer in business, at
least one of them has evolved to become a widely diversified multi service
Masonic Mutual Relief Association of the District of
1869: In 1869, 4 years after the end of the
Civil War, President Andrew Johnson, the 17th President of the United States, (1865-1869) signed a
congressional act chartering the
Masonic Mutual Relief Association of the District of Columbia. This
association was created to provide death benefits to the widows and orphans of
Freemasons. (Andrew Johnson was made a Mason in May, 1851
in Greeneville Lodge No. 119, (now No. 3), F. & A.M., Greeneville, Tennessee.)
The two pages, below are from the Fortieth Congress,
Session III, in 1869. They describe the beginnings of the Masonic Mutual
Relief Association of the District of Columbia.
Note: Please do not
confuse the Masonic Mutual Relief Association of the District of Columbia with
the current Masonic Relief Association of the United States and Canada.
They are two separate entities.
See Chapter CXXXIV, Sections 1-6 below, which begins with
the last paragraph on page 334 and continues onto page 335.
1869: The Original Charter of the Masonic Mutual
of the District of Columbia
Acacia Life Insurance
...From Masonic Insurance Provider to Mega Insurance Conglomerate
1869 to Present
The following information is credited to "A Unique and
Different Company", The Story of Acacia Mutual Life Insurance Company by Howard
W. Kacy, Member of the Newcomen Society, President, Acacia Mutual Life Insurance
Company, Washington, D.C., Copyright 1964.
(Howard W. Kacy, Mason and
member of DeMolay Legion of Honor).
Many of the excerpts below are taken from this booklet
which is the published speech delivered at the 1964 Washington Dinner of The
Newcomen Society in North America, held in the Ballroom of The Mayflower Hotel,
at Washington, D.C. with Mr. Howard W. Kacy as guest of honor.
In 1955, Mr. Kacy was named President and Chief Executive
Officer of Acacia Mutual Life Insurance Company. He and his predecessor
brought the Acacia from a small fraternal insurance society to a position of
prominence among the great financial institutions of the world.
Assessment System of the Masonic Mutual
Relief Association of the District of Columbia.
1869: Each prospective member paid $ 3.10 to
become an insured member of the Association. Under the assessment
system, whenever a member died, each of the remaining members would be assessed
$ 1.10. The dollar would be paid to the deceased's beneficiary and the 10
cents was retained by the Association to defray operating expenses.
of the expenses were incurred through the purchase of specially printed United
States Postal Cards which were used to notify members of assessment.
Secretary also received some part-time compensation for attending to the details
incident to the collecting of the assessments. It was agreed that whenever
the balance in the treasury justified it, an assessment would be waived.
1895: At the annual meeting in 1895, Mr.
Montgomery (Secretary of the Association), reviewed the record the Association
made during its first quarter century. It had received $ 770,000 in
income, of which $ 749,000 was from assessments and the rest from membership
applications, rent, interest, etc.
Beneficiaries had received $ 701,000
and assets amounted to $ 14,000, consisting mainly of the building which housed
the Association's office.
The remaining $ 55,000 had gone for the entire expense of
management, the cost of getting new business, etc. In other words, 91
cents of every dollar received had been paid to beneficiaries, 7-1/4 cents had
gone for expenses, and 1-3/4 cents had been credited to assets.
The average amount paid to beneficiaries had been $ 1,242,
while deceased members had paid in an average of $ 259. The average annual
cost per $ 1,000 of insurance for all ages was $ 18.15.
1908: In 1908, the official company name was
changed from "The Masonic Mutual Relief Association of the District of Columbia"
to the "Masonic Mutual Life Association of the District of Columbia.
1922: In 1922, the company once again changed its name,
this time to the Acacia Mutual Life Association. The logo should be a
familiar one to all Masons...the Masonic symbol of immortality,... the
Despite the name change however, their charter still required them to confine
their sales to members of the Masonic order.
1932: In 1932, (63 years after its
inception), Acacia Mutual Life Association discontinued the practice of limiting
Masonic insurance coverage to Masons and evolved into a full-fledged mutual legal reserve life
WWII Era: During World
War II, Acacia liberalized the “war clauses” on most of its life policies and
became known as the “Serviceman’s Company.”
1984: In 1984,
Acacia purchased Calvert Group, Ltd. , which is an industry leader in socially
1985: In 1985, the
company received Congressional approval for the creation of Acacia Federal
2006: The Ameritas Acacia Companies merged
with Union Central Mutual Holding Company to form UNIFI Mutual Holding Company.
2009: From its Masonic insurance beginnings,... today,
140 years, several name
changes and multiple mergers later, Acacia Life Insurance offers universal life insurance, whole life insurance,
term insurance, annuities, retirement mutual funds
plans as well as municipal bonds, estate planning and socially responsible
It is the only life insurance company that operates under
a federal charter in the United States.
End of Excerpts from "A Unique and Different Company", The
Story of Acacia Mutual Life Insurance Company by Howard W. Kacy, Member of the
Newcomen Society, President, Acacia Mutual Life Insurance Company, Washington,
D.C., Copyright 1964.
Additional information on this page is also credited to
"Acacia Mutual Life Insurance Co. Charter Amendments", 98th Congress, 1st
Session, House of Representatives, Report No. 98-108.
Other Masonic Insurance and Masonic Relief Organizations: Circa 1896
Here are the names of some of the other Mutual Aid associations and Masonic
Relief organizations of over 100 years ago which offered forms of Masonic
Canton Masonic Mutual Benevolent Society
Chicago Northwestern Masonic Aid Association
Knights Templars & Masonic Mutual Aid Association
Knights Templars & Masons Life Ind. Co.
The information, below is from the Assessment Insurance Pocket Register of
Life Associations (1896) printed by The Spectator Company (Spectator Life
Masonic Aid Association of Dakota
Masonic Life Association
Masonic Life Association of Western New York
Masonic Mutual Aid Association
Masonic Mutual Benefit Society
Masonic Mutual Benefit Society of Kansas
Masonic Mutual Life Association
Masonic Union Life Association
Massachusetts Masonic Life Association
Northwestern Masonic Aid Association
Northwestern Mutual Relief Association
Northwestern Ohio Masonic Relief Association
Southern Tier Masonic Relief Association
United States Masonic Benevolent Association
Below is an 1884 one cent postal card
Masonic insurance assessment notification announcement from
Southern Tier Masonic Relief Association of Elmira New York
The Masonic Insurance postcard, above, dated January 1, 1884
from the Secretary's office of the Southern Tier Masonic Relief Association
in Elmira, New York says:
Assessment No. 206, Deaths Nos. 641, 642, 643, 644, 645 &
"You are hereby notified that by the decease of the
following named Brethren, you are required to pay into the treasury of this
Association FOUR DOLLARS within Thirty Days from the date hereof. Deaths
641, 642 and 643 will be paid from the surplus fund.
Underneath, it gives the age, name, residence, lodge and
lodge number, cause of death, date "cert'f" and date of death.
Fraternal, But Non-Masonic Insurance
Although few fraternal mutual aid, mutual relief or
Masonic benefit societies remain, today.,...in the mid to late
1800s, (1868-1900), these forms of life insurance were available from not only Freemason
organizations, but numerous other fraternal groups in the United States.
Order of the Odd Fellows, and the Modern Woodmen of America, both fraternal
organizations, offered insurance to their members. There were also
Why is Masonic Insurance No Longer Available?
1890-1919: A factor
that may have contributed to the decline of Masonic insurance and fraternal insurance
in general was governmental
By the 1890s, a movement was underway to impose a
mandatory pricing structure on fraternal insurance companies.
1891, the National Fraternal Congress drafted a series of bills that, among
other things, compelled all fraternals to charge rates no lower than those
indicated by a mortality table which the NFC had computed.
These bills were
introduced into state legislatures and by 1919, 40 states had modeled some form of
the NFC's (National Fraternal Congress) bill which had been passed into law.
The Great Depression (1929-1941)
1930s: Before the Social Security Act of 1935
was enacted, a limited form of the Social Security program began as a
measure to implement a form of "social insurance" during the Great Depression of
the 1930s, (1929-1941) when more than 50% of senior citizens in the United
States lived at or below poverty level.
1935: The New Deal: The Social Security Act
was passed by Congress
and signed on August 14, 1935 by President Franklin D. Roosevelt.
(32nd President, 1933-1945, a Master Mason who was
made a Mason in 1911 in Holland Lodge. No. 8 F & AM, New York, New York,..the
same Lodge in which George Washington, the Nation's first President, held
When President Roosevelt signed the Social Security Act into
law in 1935, he stated,
“We can never insure one hundred percent of the population
against one hundred percent of the hazards and vicissitudes of life, but we have
tried to frame a law which will give some measure of protection to the average
citizen and to his family against the loss of a job and against poverty-ridden
1945: The End of Masonic Insurance Offered by the
Fraternity: With the advent of Social Security, as well as other
governmental services and factors, the need for Masonic insurance offered by the
Today, becoming a Freemason does not include any type of
Masonic insurance offered by the fraternity such as discount
life insurance, term insurance or auto insurance as a benefit of membership.
However, when there was need, true to its basic tenets of
Brotherly Love, Charitable Relief and Truth, the fraternity of Freemasonry fully met
these moral obligations in the spirit of Brotherhood and Freemasons provided a form of insurance to their brethren.