History of Insurance

Ancient Times – 1700’s

Bottomry/Maritime Insurance

The first recorded use of insurance was to make provision for ships and their cargo lost at sea. Bottomry, also known as marine insurance, provided bankers with guarantees against loss as maritime trading increased, and in return, the merchants paid the bankers a fee for this protection. Bottomry was practiced in ancient Babylon, Greece, and Rome.

Llyod’s of London, the international insurance market, was started in the early 1700’s and then reorganized as a formal underwriters group in 1769 to accept marine risks.


1600’s – Present Time

Fire Insurance

Fire insurance came about as the result of the Great Fire of London in 1666. While many of the first insurance companies were fraudulent, the London Assurance Corporation and the Royal Exchange Assurance Corporation were founded. These two companies are the foundation for today’s property and liability insurance.

In America, Benjamin Franklin organized the first property insurance company in 1752, known as the Philadelphia Contributionship. Many property insurance companies failed after the Great Fire of Chicago in 1871 and the San Francisco earthquake and fire of 1906.


1900’s – Present Time

Life Insurance

Over a period of 80 yrs, from 1910-1990, life insurance grew at a rate of 8.4%. Most wealthy countries use life insurance as a way to save and invest as a protection against the burden of loss from death of a loved one. By 1987, U.S insurers wrote 37% of all premiums worldwide.


21st Century

The Future of Insurance

The market for insurance is worldwide due to the expansion of trade and businesses investing outside their home countries. The trend for insurance is to move away from nationalism toward global insurance programs. These programs will be possible by mergers among insurers and brokerage firms.

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