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Definition of "Tontine"

Early life insurance that provided benefits only to survivors who lived to the end of a certain period of time. In the mid-17th century, Lorenzo Tonti, an Italian, devised a scheme to raise money for the French government of Louis XIV. It involved a state lottery in which the oldest survivor would collect the pot. One woman, age 96, hit the jackpot shortly before her death. Tontine policies were introduced in the U.S. in the 1860s, but condemned in the Armstrong investigation in 1905 in New York State and subsequently outlawed everywhere 45 years later.

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