It was 1908 when the Chicago Cubs last won a World Series.
The Cubs beat the Detroit Tigers on Oct. 14 that year, winning the World Series for the second consecutive year. While the Cubs would make it back to the series seven more times (the team’s last World Series appearance was in 1945), they would not win again, earning the nickname the Lovable Losers.
The Cubs are back in the World Series this year, and Chicago baseball fans are hoping their team will break its fabled 108-year championship drought. In those 108 years, the world has seen two world wars, a human being walking on the surface of the moon, and technology advances that have dramatically changed almost every aspect of life.
The insurance industry has also experienced dramatic change during the more than a century since the Cubs last tasted World Series victory, including evolution in products and regulatory influences.
Related: How 10 life insurers got their start
Continue reading to see a decade-by-decade breakdown of how the insurance industry has changed in the 108 years since the Cubs last won a World Series.
Northwestern Mutual paid out $500,000 in death benefits for 13 policy owners who perished when the Titanic sunk on April 15, 1912. The Titanic is shown here departing Southampton on April 12, 1912. (Photo: Wikimedia Commons)
1911: Group life insurance is born when Equitable Life Assurance Society wrote a policy covering all 125 employees of the Pantasote Leather Co. without requiring individual applications or medical exams. In 1912, Equitable organizes a department to promote group coverage and soon begins insuring employees of Montgomery Ward.
The U.S. Supreme Court rules that life insurance policies are an asset (Grigsby v. Russell). Like all assets, policies are freely assignable for value. This principle, upon which the viatical settlement and later the life settlement industry are based, remains little-used for almost eight decades until the onset of the AIDS crisis.
1912: When 13 policyowners perished in the sinking of the R.M.S. Titanic, Northwestern Mutual paid out more in death benefits ($500,000) as a result of the tragedy than any other life insurance company.
The Pennsylvania Company for Insurance on Lives and Granting Annuities becomes the very first American company to offer annuities to the public (outside a group).
1914: Eleven years after Orville Wright made the first powered airplane flight, Northwestern Mutual pays benefits for its first death claim caused by an airplane accident when policy owner Frank M. Bell fell from his aircraft. The policy, amounting to $15,000, was purchased in 1907.
1916: LIMRA is founded to perform research and other activities to help member companies — businesses that market life, health, disability and long-term care insurance, annuities, mutual funds and retirement savings products — improve their marketing and distribution effectiveness.
1917: Harold Pierce, a Philadelphia-based general agent of New York Life, wrote a $2.5 million policy on J.P. Morgan. At the time, it’s the largest life insurance policy ever issued to an individual. The sale earned Pierce, known as the Million Dollar Policy Writer, $61,600 in first-year commission.
MassMutual’s assets under management exceed $100 million. The company begins offering annuity products.
1918: The Carnegie Foundation established the Teachers Insurance and Annuity Association (TIAA), a fully funded system of pensions for college and university professors. Incorporated as a life insurance company in the state of New York, 30 public and private institutions signed on by the end of its first year.
North American became the first company to offer a disability insurance policy for women.
(A solemn crowd gathers outside the Stock Exchange after the crash in 1929. James Cash Penney lost substantially all of his personal wealth in the crash and eventually borrowed against his life insurance policy to financially recover. Photo: Wikimedia Commons)
1927: The Million Dollar Round Table was created by 32 life insurance producers, each of whom had sold at least $1 million of life insurance. The goal is to produce an international idea exchange forum dedicated to fostering a high-standard, professional approach to life insurance sales and service. Paul F. Clark, CLU, of John Hancock, is the first president of the organization, which met at the Peabody in Memphis, Tennessee.
The American College of Life Underwriters was founded by Solomon Huebner of the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania, offering the Chartered Life Underwriter (CLU) designation. Now known as the American College and located in Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania, the institution has accredited more than 94,000 CLU recipients, and since 1982, more than 41,000 Chartered Financial Consultants (ChFC).
1928: MassMutual began offering accidental death insurance.
1929: James Cash Penney, founder of J.C. Penney Co. stores, loses virtually all of his personal wealth as a result of the 1929 stock crash. He borrowed against his life insurance policies to help the company meet its payroll and eventually recovered financially.
State Farm Life Insurance Co. was founded in Bloomington, Illinois, by G.J. Mecherle, who buys the first policy of $2,000 of ordinary life.
Unemployed men queued outside a depression soup kitchen opened in Chicago by Al Capone. By the eve of the Great Depression, there were more than 120 million life insurance policies in place in the United States. (Photo: Wikimedia Commons)
1930: After coming through the crash of 1929 relatively unscathed, MetLife insured every fifth man, woman and child in the United States and Canada. The company’s financial stability enables it to aid in the financing of the Empire State Building and Rockefeller Center.
Life insurance sales rose dramatically after World War I, peaking at $117 billion of insurance in force in 1930. By the eve of the Great Depression there were more than 120 million life insurance policies — equivalent to one policy for every man, woman and child living in the United States at that time.
1939: Following the 1935 passage of the Social Security Act, amendments were passed that add two new categories of benefits: Payments to the spouse and minor children of a retired worker (so-called dependents benefits) and survivors benefits, which are paid to the family in the event of the premature death of a covered worker. This change transforms Social Security from a retirement program for workers into a family-based economic security program.
Guardian Life board member Branch Rickey, general manager of the Brooklyn Dodgers, expected backlash resulting from his hiring of Jackie Robinson (pictured), the first African American to play in the major leagues. (Photo: Bob Sandberg/Wikimedia Commons)
1942: American National became the first Texas insurance company to claim $100 million in assets. Two years later, the company’s insurance in force passed the billion-dollar mark. During World War II, American National was a significant financial contributor to the military efforts of the United States, purchasing about $33 million worth of government war bonds.
1945: The McCarran-Ferguson Act was passed by Congress, partially exempting insurance companies from the federal antitrust legislation that applies to most businesses. It also allowed for the state regulation of insurance.
Guardian Life board member Branch Rickey, general manager of the Brooklyn Dodgers, tendered his resignation in anticipation of adverse publicity resulting from his hiring of Jackie Robinson, the first African-American to play in the major leagues. The board rejected Rickey’s resignation.
Northwestern Mutual deployed a large-scale IBM computer, similar to this one deployed at the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics, in 1957. (Photo: Wikimedia Commons)
1951: Metropolitan Life authorized its agents to solicit African-American business in New York, subject to the same rules on commissions that apply to white lives.
1952: As increasing life expectancies and high inflation rates changed the playing field for pension providers, TIAA created the world’s first variable annuity, the College Retirement Equities Fund. An editor at Fortune magazine wrote to a colleague: “I think this is the biggest development in the insurance-investment business since the passage of the Social Security Act.”
1956: Minnesota Mutual bought its first computer — a Burroughs Datatron 205 — which was expected to save the company an estimated $100,000 a year. Installed in July 1957, the bulky $355,000 13-unit computer occupied 1,000 square feet. The company housed the machine in a custom-built fourth-floor room with one glass wall, so visitors could see the futuristic machine in action.
Related: The power of technology in insurance
1957: In an effort to improve service as well as reduce costs, Northwestern Mutual became the first business in the country to own a large-scale IBM. Its new “electronic brain” arrived in a semi-trailer, and it takes several months to prepare the IBM 705′s climate-controlled home. By the time installation is complete, the total cost of the computer amounted to $1.6 million.
The American Association of Life Underwriters was founded by a group of leading producers with the sole purpose of influencing legislation on a single key issue — minimum deposit life insurance.
1958: Aflac introduced one of the world’s first cancer-expense insurance policies.