What Is the Origin of Insurance?

by Janet Hunt; Updated September 26, 2017
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The history of insurance dates back to ancient times. There has always been a need for insurance. The basic concept of insurance is to spread the risk among a large enough pool so that no one person suffers the entire cost of the loss. Ancient insurance concepts date back to the days of early hunters. Hunters went on hunting expeditions in groups to minimize the risk of a person's injury by a wild animal.

The First Insurance Policy

The first insurance policy came from ancient Babylonia. King Hammurabi established the "Hammurabi Code." This code established the practice of forgiving a debtor his loans in the event of a personal catastrophe such as death, disability or loss of property.

Guild Coverage

In the Middle Ages artisans belonged to guilds. Everyone paid dues to a coffer, which served as an insurance fund. If the artisan's establishment was destroyed or if he were killed, funds were used from the coffer to pay for rebuilding or supporting the widow and children.

Lloyd's of London

The origin of Lloyd's of London was in the late 1600's in the coffeehouses of London. Ship owners traveling to the Americas sought insurance for their cargo and journey. Wealthy merchants funded the trips in exchange for returns from the goods the colonists discovered or manufactured in the new world.

Fire Insurance

The origin of fire insurance came after the great fire of London in 1666. Survivors found themselves homeless. Groups of merchants who had previously financed the ship's journeys into America began offering fire insurance.

Insurance in America

Insurance was slow to develop in America. The colonist's lives were fraught with dangers. Three-fourths of the colonists died during the first 40 years after coming to America. It took over 100 years for insurance to be established in America.

About the Author

Janet Hunt has worked in the insurance industry for more than 15 years. Now serving in online marketing, she also has expertise in business and finance topics. Hunt received her Bachelor of Business Administration from the University of Phoenix. Hunt has also worked as a food services manager for a high school cafeteria and received her school nutrition certification in 2002.

Photo Credits

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