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Early life insurers in the United States found themselves facing the problem of obtaining reliable information, as they needed to rely on applicants themselves to provide truthful, complete answers to a standard set of questions. In an attempt to personalize the relationship between insurers and their individual applicants, firms selected highly respected local citizens to act as their agents. These agents were expected to evaluate the appearance of candidates, unearth evidence of unhealthy family histories or questionable habits, and attest to the respectability of the people writing testimonial letters on an applicant's behalf. In short, the initial purpose of the agency system was not to actively solicit customers, but, rather, to recreate the glass-bowl mentality associated with small towns or city neighborhoods.