125 Influential People and Ideas
Solomon S. Huebner

1896

Through a Wharton fellowship, W.E.B. DuBois undertook his classic study of the social and economic conditions of urban blacks.

The Father of Insurance Education

Solomon S. Huebner, GrW’13, Professor

Solomon Huebner’s designation as the “father of insurance education” is undisputed. He taught the first course ever given in insurance, established the insurance department — and became the architect of the modern financial services industry.

Although his Wharton doctoral thesis concerned foreign-trade aspects of marine insurance, Huebner invited life insurance managers to lecture to his early Wharton students. He quickly realized the urgent need for uniformity, fairness, and honesty in the industry.

Huebner wrote pioneering texts on various types of insurance, including life, property and marine — always stressing honesty, professionalism, and the quest for expert knowledge. He established an insurance department at Wharton by 1913 where he taught until retiring in 1953.

Huebner taught the first course ever given in insurance, established the insurance department — and became the architect of the modern financial services industry.

Huebner often traveled the country to insurance meetings, fiercely advocating for industry change. He once told an audience of salesmen and executives that “life insurance salesmanship must be given the status of a profession — a high calling,” comparing the profession to law, medicine, and the ministry. He earned top-teaching awards during his tenure by animatedly exhorting students to be “noble” about their mission. One teaching colleague exclaimed, “You will find appraisals varying all the way between a messiah and a charlatan, and of course he was neither.” Industry giant John Hancock instead called him a hero.

Huebner revolutionized the industry with qualifying exams and required accreditations for national industry standards, almost single-handedly instituting scruples that helped to propel sales to almost incomprehensible levels. He founded the American College of Life Underwriters in 1927 and the American Institute for Chartered Property Casualty Underwriters in 1942. Huebner died in 1964.