The movie Double Indemnity produced in 1944 reminded one that men and women have been killing each other to collect life insurance for ages.
The scene you see in the picture below shows a claims adjuster played by Edward G. Robinson grilling a customer who had set fire to his own vehicle in order to file a bogus claim. Just behind the trepidating customer is a bulletin board proclaiming that life insurance surrender rates are at all time lows. I guess that means that most people in the 40’s did not let their policies lapse.
Robinson’s character actually went to the customer’s house and found kerosene soaked wood shavings used to set the car on fire. The customer actually admitted to wrongdoing and signed a form withdrawing his fraudulent claim……an unlikely event these days where insurance companies, in writing, implore their customers to NEVER admit guilt!
A capital sum in those days was insurance jargon for a payment upon death type of claim. Stanywyck’s character duped salesman’s MacMurray character into trying to make it look like her abrasive husband fell off a train. Such a rare death resulted in double the money paid, hence double indemnity.