quite a lot actually - including introducing the world's first ever
life insurance cover in the year 600 BC. The policies were
administered by 'Benevolent Societies' managed by the governing
'Senate' and provided financial support for the families of the
deceased. The funds paid out on the death of an insured person and
were intended to cover funeral costs and to provide some financial
security for surviving family members.
may be surprised to learn that insurance can trace its history back
600 years before the birth of Christ, but it actually dates back
even further than that. The Romans were by no means the first
civilisation to devise a system to manage risks and protect
valuable assets. Long before Caesar's legions had established the
far flung borders of the Roman Empire, traders were insuring their
goods before setting off on the long and often hazardous journeys
to distant lands.
earliest record of a system which we would recognise as insurance
appears around 3,000 BC when Chinese and Babylonion traders took
steps to safeguard ships' cargoes. The traders would pay a third
party to transport the goods, on the understanding that the trader
would be reimbursed should the goods be lost in transit. The
transporter would often split the cargo into multiple, smaller
loads to reduce the risk of total loss.
thousand years later in 2,000 BC the ancient Persians developed the
insurance idea to cover things other than commercial goods. Each
'Nowruz' (New Year's Eve) wealthy noblemen paid a bounty of 10,000
Derrik to the king to insure valuable family assets against
1,000 BC traders from the Greek island of Rhodes developed a system
called the 'General Average' whereby each would pay a bounty to a
central fund kept secure by an independent third party. Any trader
losing a shipment would be reimbursed from this fund.
time of Christ's birth, insurance was a well established concept
across the trading world, remaining largely unchanged until the
12th century AD. An agreement between traders
and the rulers of Anatolia, in what is now Turkey, resulted in the
world's first state sponsored insurance policies, where claimants
were reimbursed from the national treasury.
renaissance Europe saw the emergence of an 'insurance industry' in
response to the increased complexities of international trade. In
the 1680's Mr Edward Lloyd opened his now famous coffee house in
London and it soon became popular with ship owners, traders,
merchants and captains. They were soon joined by a new breed of
businessman - the underwriter - and insurance deals were agreed and
signed over steaming cups of Brazilian coffee.
1680's also saw the establishment of the first fire insurance
company, set up by Mr Nicholas Barbon. This venture was a direct
consequence of the Great Fire of London in 1666 when over 13,000
homes were destroyed without compensation.
19th century saw the birth of accident
insurance and the beginnings of regulation of the rapidly growing
insurance business. It was in the 1800's that criminals first took
an interest in the insurance industry and the opportunities it
presented for embezzlement. Customers began to lie about values and
events in order to make dishonest claims and insurance inspired
murders began to make the news headlines. It was against this
backdrop that insurance investigators appeared on the scene and a
new job description entered the English language - The Loss
Adjuster. People also began to question the morality of an industry
which was prepared to insure slaves as if they were mere chattels.
As recently as 1840, Nautilus Insurance of London sold almost 500
slave insurance policies to traders and slave owners. In fact, the
practice of offering slave insurance policies continued right up to
the end of the American Civil War in 1865.
century saw a further development
in the industry, with entire nations taking out insurance policies
as a means of guaranteeing financial security. The 1900's also saw
the introduction of legislation making insurance compulsory in many
areas of activity.
And so, to the present
years have elapsed since mankind first came up with the idea of
insuring valuable assets.
live in an increasingly complicated world where our individual
insurance needs are equally complicated.
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