Insuring Charles Dickens

    In November 1841, Charles Dickens took out a life insurance policy worth £5,000 (£360,000 today). At this time, he had already published five novels including Nicholas Nickleby and Oliver Twist. The policy was ‘witnessed’ by his father, John Dickens. According to the proposal, Dickens was in “very good general health”. This life insurance reflects his new found fame and fortune.

    The motivation for getting life insurance was the impending voyage to America. Immediately after taking the policy Dickens set sail for the US.  His inclination to get life insurance was vindicated – the passage across the Atlantic was rough and his cabin was small. Dickens described his stay in the cabin as “a giraffe being forced into a flowerpot”.

    The insurance remained in force until Dickens’ death. In October 1870, Eagle Insurance paid £6,337 to the beneficiaries – over £500,000 today.


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