The action of the 1952 novel Prisoner's Base takes place in 1952 in New York. In chapter 15, the author writes in the voice of one of the characters:
Some chauffeurs of PD [=police department] cars like to have an excuse to step on it, and some don't. That one did. He didn't use much noise, but plenty of gas, and when he was in the fourth grade a maladjusted schoolteacher had made him write five hundred times, "A miss is as good as a mile," and it sank in. I should have clocked us from 230 West Twentieth Street to 240 Centre Street. As I got out I told him he should have an insurance vending machine, like those at airports, installed on his dash, and he grinned amicably. "Impressed you, did it, bud?"
What were "those [insurance vending machines] at airports" and how did they work? What kind of insurance did they sell? Who bought it, and why? And how could insurance be sold via a vending machine (in 1952, before automated online personal-information lookup), without knowing the buyer's risk level?