Manhattan Life

Manhattan Life Insurance Company, incorporated on May 29, 1850, is a life insurance company domiciled in New York but operates as a subsidiary of Manhattan Life Group in Houston, Texas.

After the New York Deposit Law was passed in 1851 to prevent recklessness by insurance companies from having inadequate security and incompetent management, the founders of Manhattan Life sought to provide stability by creating a stock company controlled by a board of directors with a financial interest in the management, while at the same time protecting the interests of policyholders by giving them the advantages of a mutual system whose profits belong to the insured. As an additional safeguard, one-half of the directors were to be policyholders whose premiums were at least $100 per year and all policyholders whose premiums qualled or exceeded $75 were entitled to vote. The company was successful and maintained a favorable record.

In 1894, the company built the first skyscraper in New York, and the tallest building in the world at the time: the Manhattan Life Insurance Building. It was sold off by the company in 1926.

Between 1984 and 1986, the parent company moved from a mixed stock and policy holder model to a full stock ownership, moving Manhattan Life Insurance Company into the model with them. The company was formerly a subsidiary of the Manhattan Life Corporation.

In early 1854, Manhattan Life Insurance issued the first group policy ever written by the company, which was a shipment of 700 Chinese labourers (or ‘coolies’). The company assumed a quarter of the financial risk, with other companies taking on the rest. Part of the underwriting included a stipulation that a doctor be present, and that other needs pertaining to ‘mortality’ were available.

By the end of the voyage, 11 ‘coolies’ died of disease, and three had jumped overboard. Manhattan Life Insurance paid out a quarter of the total loss, and made $432 on the transaction.

A 2009 New York State department of Financial Services report found a number of policyholder disclosure violations. A follow-up examination by the same department in 2014 revealed that subsequent actions were taken by the company to satisfy each of the citations in a manner acceptable to the Department.

Contact Us

Manhattan Life
10777 Northwest Freeway
Houston, Texas 77092
United States
(646) 826-6600


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