On August 17, 1800, Thomas Jefferson wrote in his account books, "Insured my houses with Mr. Ast as follows," including the estimated value, insured value, and premium for Monticello and four different outbuildings.1 "Mr. Ast" was William Frederick Ast of the Mutual Assurance Society of Virginia. Jefferson had first considered purchasing insurance for Monticello in 1795, and even went so far as to begin filling out the insurance declaration form,2but he had significant reservations because of the way the company had been set up under a 1794 act.3 The Mutual Assurance Society's constitution was later amended,4 and Jefferson purchased insurance in August 1800 for the "Dwelling house" (Monticello), "Outchamber" (South Pavilion), "Stone house" (the structure now known as Weaver's Cottage), the joiner's shop, and stable. The total premium was $91.30. At that time, premiums were intended to be paid only once; after 1809, Jefferson began paying an annual premium of $12.84. Jefferson maintained the policies until at least 1823, with only a short gap in coverage in 1820.5
Thomas Jefferson's original insurance declaration is still in the archives of the Mutual Assurance Society in Richmond; the five original insurance policies are at the Massachusetts Historical Society.
Ast to Jefferson, Richmond, February 1, 1795, in PTJ 28:257-258.
Ast to Jefferson, Richmond, October 10, 1796, in PTJ 29:190-191.
Library of Virginia. Mutual Assurance Society Records. Some information about the society as well as links to several guides, indexes and databases of society records.
Love, Richard. Founded Upon Benevolence: A Bicentennial History of the Mutual Assurance Society of Virginia. Richmond: Valentine Museum, 1994. Available as a PDF on the Mutual Assurance Society website at http://www.mutual-assurance.com/aboutHistory.asp.