The History of Insurance

The history of insurance goes back over 400 years – to 1666 in fact. The Great Fire of London (UK), which devoured 13,000 houses in one night, started what is now known as Property Insurance, although back then it was known as simply Fire Insurance.  A Fire Insurance Mark could be purchased and placed above your front door informing people that in the event of a fire the local fire brigade would tend to your property. However it soon highlighted a flaw as rival fire brigades would ignore properties without a Fire Mark; this resulted in insurance companies supplying money and equipment to municipal authorities in order for all brigades to share the responsibility around the city of London.


Over the course of the centuries other forms of insurance were developed. Business insurance, or the ‘underwriting of business ventures’, also started – it’s where the term Underwriting comes from. With London’s ever increasing shipping trade during the late 1680’s a man called Edward Lloyd opened a coffee house which became an informal meeting place between parties in the shipping industry wishing to insure cargoes and ships, and those willing to underwrite such ventures. The walls around the shop would be covered with papers detailing a ships cargo and destination and anyone wishing to insure a particular party would write their name under the applicable applicant. What started out as a small coffee shop would grow into a large insurance market now called Lloyd’s of London.


Life insurance soon followed in the early 1700’s – known as the Amicable Society for a Perpetual Assurance Office and it would go on to start the very first mutual insurer – the Society for Equitable Assurances on Lives and Survivorship.


Accident insurance became available in the late 19th century and operated in a similar way to what disability insurance is today. One of the first to offer such coverage was the Railway Passengers Assurance Company in 1848 (England) and they put a package deal together offering basic accident insurance along with travel tickets to customers. If you were unfortunate to be considered second or third class passengers, your premiums would be higher due to the fact the carriages were roofless and posed a higher risk of accident.


Over the course of the centuries insurance spread to different parts of the world, developing better coverages and insuring more than just a fire accident or shipping disasters. You can insure almost anything, from your home, your vehicle, your person, even your pet!  With so much to look after it is well worth taking the time to ensure you are insured and a licensed insurance broker can help you. With over 400 years of experience and development, insurance is something to be proud of and thankful to have!





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