Before it was officially the United States, there were insurance companies. Some are still around; some didn’t make it past their first disaster. But there's an interesting story behind each one. In the mid-18th century, Benjamin Franklin and fellow firefighters founded what is said to be the first, lasting insurance company under the mutual principle “whereby every man might help another without any disservice to himself,” he said. CIGNA can trace its roots back to 1792 in Philadelphia. Its first major catastrophe was the Great Chicago Fire in 1871. The Hartford Fire Insurance Company was incorporated in 1810 by the Connecticut General Assembly. During the Civil war, Confederate commander Robert E. Lee purchased a policy for his family home in Virginia. President Lincoln later purchased coverage for his property in Springfield, Ill.