Of all U.S. businesses, none is more carefully tailored to the needs of its individual customers than life insurance. In 1957 the 1,144 U.S. life-insurance companies had something for virtually every one of their 106 million policyholders with an inventory of thousands of policies ranging from a $100 industrial policy, which costs less than 5¢ a week, to a $1,000,000 policy, with premiums as high as $100,000 a year. All are variations of five basic kinds of participating insurance:

Straight Life Insurance, the industry's traditional bread-and-butter policy, which provides a lump-sum payment to a...

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