Slavery Era Insurance Registry
In August 2000 the California legislature found that
"Insurance policies from the slavery era have been discovered in the archives of several insurance companies, documenting insurance coverage for slaveholders for damage to or death of their slaves, issued by a predecessor insurance firm. These documents provide the first evidence of ill-gotten profits from slavery, which profits in part capitalized insurers whose successors remain in existence today." SB2199 Sec. 1(a).
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Governor Davis signed the bill (SB2199) into law in September 2000. The statute took effect January 1, 2001. California Code of Regulations, Title 10, Sections 2393 - 2398 implement the statute.
Section 13810: The Commissioner shall request and obtain information from insurers licensed and doing business in this state regarding any records of slaveholder insurance policies issued by any predecessor corporation during the slavery era.
Section 13811: The Commissioner shall obtain the names of any slaveholders or slaves described in those insurance records, and shall make the information available to the public and the Legislature.
Section 13812: Each insurer licensed and doing business in this state shall research and report to the Commissioner with respect to any records within the insurer's possession or knowledge relating to insurance policies issued to slaveholders that provided coverage for damage to or death or their slaves.
Section 13813: Descendants of slaves, whose ancestors were defined as private property, dehumanized, divided from their families, forced to perform labor without appropriate compensation or benefits, and whose ancestors' owners were compensated for damages by insurers, are entitled to full disclosure.
Below are links to the Department's report to the California Legislature describing the information received from insurers in response to this statute, including the database of slave and slaveholder names and identifying information.
- New York Life Canceled Policies Report
- Policy Documents
- Slave Names
- Slaveholder Names
- Slavery Era Report
After the publication of the Department's report on Slavery Era Insurance, New York Life Insurance Company pointed out clarifying information that it had provided to the Department before the publication of the report.
All reports submitted in response to this statute, together with all documents attached thereto, such as copies of policies, ledgers and documents that discuss slave insurance, can be examined at the Department of Insurance public viewing rooms in Los Angeles and Oakland. Please note that as of 3/2020 the Public Viewing Rooms are temporarily closed, due to safety and security concerns. Most of what is in the Public Viewing Rooms are also available via the web links above.
For both locations, please call in advance to schedule an appointment.
300 South Spring Street, 12th Floor
Los Angeles, California 90013
Hours: 8:00am - 4:30pm
1901 Harrison St
Oakland, California 94612
Hours: 8:30am - 5pm
The public viewing room staff will photocopy pages for 54 cents per page, or copies can be made through a photocopying service.
In addition to the report and documents made available at the Department, after consultation with the California State Librarian, the Department has sent copies of the slavery era insurance documents we received from the insurers to libraries at the:
- University of California at Berkeley
- University of California at Davis
- University of California at Los Angeles
- University of California at San Diego
- University of California at Santa Barbara
- University of California at Santa Cruz
The documents were also sent to the county public libraries for Alameda, Los Angeles, San Francisco, San Diego, and Santa Clara counties and to the California State Library in Sacramento.
The Department copied for the libraries' collections, the reports and documents of those insurers that were in business prior to 1865, when slavery was outlawed.
Please contact the individual libraries for information on when they will make the documents available to the public.