Case | HBS Case Collection | January 2008 (Revised January 2009)

The Armstrong Investigation

by David Moss and Eugene Kintgen

Abstract

In the early 20th century, public outrage at certain life insurance practices led to an investigation in New York State that threatened to curtail growth in the industry. Charles Evans Hughes guided the four-month-long Armstrong Investigation, which made startling revelations, and offered a number of controversial recommendations, several of which would forbid the most popular form of life insurance (tontine insurance), limit the growth of life insurers (which included several of the nation's largest financial institutions at the time), and prevent insurance firms from owning the stock of other companies. The New York State legislature approved all of the recommended measures, and sent the bill to the Governor for his signature. The life insurance industry objected, however, claiming that some of the new rules would reduce consumer choice and unnecessarily lower returns on company investments.

Keywords: Crime and Corruption; Annuities; Insurance; Governing Rules, Regulations, and Reforms; Insurance Industry; New York (state, US);

Citation:

Moss, David, and Eugene Kintgen. "The Armstrong Investigation." Harvard Business School Case 708-034, January 2008. (Revised January 2009.)