You may find it interesting to note that the need for methods of transferring or distributing risk is not a modern day phenomenon but dates back to ancient times. To history buffs, what is fascinating is that some form of “insurance” was practiced by Chinese and Babylonian traders as far back as the 3rd and 2nd millennia BC! Imagine having to ship your goods to market on treacherous river rapids. How do you limit your loss if a vessel capsizes? Solution – redistribute your wares across many vessels. It’s called risk management.
Methods and systems of insurance continued to evolve in a variety of ways over the years to fit the needs and circumstances. “The first known insurance contract dates from Genoa in 1347.” The growing demand for marine insurance led to the market known as Lloyd’s of London around 1688 which became the world’s best known insurance underwriting society.
The Great Fire of London destroyed 13,200 houses in 1666. This led to insurance as we know it today with the opening of an office to insure buildings in England in 1680. The first fire insurance company in the U.S. dates back to 1732. Benjamin Franklin was influential in making insurance popular in the U.S., especially property insurance in order to spread the risk of loss from fire. He founded a company in 1752 which was the first to make contributions toward fire prevention and to warn against certain fire hazards.
Now supposing it was your dwelling that caught on fire in those early days. Fire insurance companies “competed” with volunteer fire departments to extinguish the fire – thus the department that arrived first and doused the flames got paid. Buildings that were insured had “fire brand” placards attached to the building so if the insurance carrier’s own fire brigade arrived first and there was no placard, they would watch the building burn leaving the fight for the next department to arrive. We’ve come a long way!
What is particularly fascinating is an article found on-line about livestock insurance “Development and Practices…” by Edwin W. Kopf. Looking back at various countries, coverage of some kind reaches back to the “mists of antiquity”. Here in the states, it seems to indicate that modern day companies offering this “miscellaneous” line date back to the early part of the nineteenth century.
“The importance of livestock insurance is suggested by the fact that the value of all animals on farms in the United States was estimated in 1927 to be more than $5,000,000,000…the number and value as determined by the Census of Agriculture on January 1, 1925.” The Table provided in Mr. Kopf’s article tells us that of the 60,760,000 number of all domestic animals, 5,681,000 were horses. Now take the combined value of those horses, $1,001,521,000 and divide by the number and you arrive at $176.29 for each horse! Amazing!
Learn more about your “modern day” choices today by contacting Blue Bridle, specialists in horse insurance and related equine insurance products.
Sources include: Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia and the Insurance Journal magazine