Landmarks In The History Of Insurance

The primary purpose of insurance is to spread the risk of loss, and the first rudimentary form of insurance as we would recognise it was ratified in the Code of Hammurabi nearly 2,000 years ago and practiced by Mediterranean shipping merchants. If a merchant was paying to send goods by voyage with a loan he had taken out he could pay the lender an extra amount so that if the goods were lost at sea he would not have to repay the loan.

There were various forms of early insurance that we can take advantage of today but it was not until the Italian Renaissance that Genoa introduced insurance that was not tied in to other deals and contracts and operated as an entirely separate product from investment. A book of the time (the 1500s) also makes clear the explicit link between insurance and risk. It is titled On Insurance and Merchants' Bets.
London has long been a baton bearer for insurance, for good or ill. For good because the huge expansion as England's capital was thanks to the booming maritime fortunes of that nation and this also enabled a certain Edward Lloyd to establish an insurance market which remains the foremost in the world. For ill because it was only due to the Great Fire of London that one Nicholas Barbon came to offer insurance for buildings in the aftermath, and he would go on to establish England's first fire insurance company.
The first US insurance company itself offered only fire insurance and it seemed this was a favored model as Benjamin Franklin himself set up a fire insurance company in 1752. It was however his first company to take risk assessment more seriously and provide decent advice as a helpful guide to fire prevention. His company also refused to insure certain buildings where the risk of fire was determined to be too great. They would not insure wooden buildings for example.
There are times in modern life when insurance is absolutely necessary by law. One such example is car insurance and this is due to several reasons - the absolute prevalence of motor vehicles, the cost of damage that accidents have the potential to cause, and most importantly the impossibility of assurance that an accident-causing person would be able to pay the costs of the accident. Now of course it is illegal to drive a car without insurance but it took until the 30s in the UK and even up to the 60s and 70s in the US for car insurance to become compulsory.
At present there is no special life insurance product for astronauts, which is surely one of the riskiest professions. Surely some enterprising insurance company is on the verge of making that giant leap?

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