Insurance – It's Early History

Insurance. What would we do without it? Though it seems impossible, there was a time when insurance on anything did not even exist. Unfortunately, the early beginnings of insurance are unclear. Over the centuries there have been key writings uncovered that give us some ideas of it's beginning s. But as to an actual moment in time when the first item was insured, no one really knows.

There are theories that insurance goes back to the early days of the Babylonian traders at around the 2nd millennium BCE. They created a system which was recorded in the famous Code of Hammurabi around 1750 BC. This system was practiced by early Mediterranean sailing merchants. If a merchant received a loan to fund his shipment he would pay the lender an additional sum in exchange for the lender's guarantee to cancel the loan should the shipment be stolen.

As a business itself, the first recognizable form of insurance started in Great Britain in 1666. This was in reaction to the "Great Fire Of London." Because of this incident fire became a growing concern in England. Another major concern in England during the time was marine insurance because of England's position in the world of sea trade. Some of the early insurance companies of the time were The Sun Fire Office, Royal Exchange Assurance and Hand In Hand.

As was stated above, there were some early writings that point to the first insurance companies and types of insurance. Below are a number of these writings.

From 1680 the following memo was found. "Mr. Newbold, London's Improvement and the Builders' Security Asserted, by the apparent advantages that will attend their easie charge, in raising such a joint-stock as may assure a Re-Building of those Houses which shall hereafter be Destroyed by the Casualties of Fire. " This memo appears to point to the beginnings of fire insurance. There were many other memos found during that same time period from 1680 to 1700 all related to fire insurance companies.

In 1697 writings were found to show the beginnings of an insurance company created to insure the welfare of widows and orphans. This appears to be the early beginnings of life insurance. During the period of 1697 to 1762 many other memos were found relating to the establishment of life insurance. Some of the early known companies are The Society For Equitable Insurances, The Perpetual Assurance Office and The Hampshire Society. It was not however until about 1850 that the first evidence of life expectancy actuary tables were found.

The first evidence of insurance for businessmen was memos found going back to the year 1601. Many different kinds of businesses were mentioned in these memos such as small businessmen, mining companies and ship building companies. Evidence also shows that the British took out insurance on their enemies' ships for the purpose of collecting on them after they were destroyed by the British Navy.

In the next article we'll go over the various types of insurance that one can purchase today.