This week's Time piece...
1668: In France, the Chamber of Insurance opened.
The term insure is derived from the word ensure. It comes from the French term enseurer. En, means to cause, and sure, is to be free from doubt or, to be certain. Sure is traced to the Latin word securus. From this, se is to be free and cura means care. History has shown that to be free from care means to secura…enseuer…ensure…insure.
The concept of insurance has its origins in our earliest history. As long as there have been humans, there has been the need to “spread the risks,” so to speak. With time and experience, the techniques developed became less of an action in basic survival and more of one offering protection against unexpected losses. The crucial elements of insurance have always been “safety in numbers.” Therefore, the need to develop an understanding of this became evident. The study of time and its effects were quantified. The year was first broken into segments and counting developed. One skill led to another. Communication was needed to transfer information. The various parties had to be able to envision time, understand the risks and be prepared. Teamwork was vital to survival. As this timeline shows, the history of insurance begins as a natural instinct and develops as a valuable, learned trait. Along the way are the events which remind us to safeguard our own future and that of our family.
1667: The Insurance Office opened in a small space near the Royal Exchange, London’s stock market.
1666: The Great Fire of London occurred. At the time, many of the homes were built of wood and the roofs were thatched with straw. The fire destroyed over 80% of the city, 13,000 homes and 52 churches, much of the wealth of the country. The rich stored their valuables in the Tower of London until it too was threatened. The fire started in a bakery and burned for four days. The devastation was so great it led to changes in building construction techniques,fire protection measures and of course, demand for insurance. Fortunately only 6 people lost their lives.
1623: Étienne Pascal (1623-1662) begins work on the theory of probability; an early form of risk management.
1610: William Shakespeare (1554-1616), wrote The Tempest, which contains a quirky reference to both the dangers of travel in this period and the rewards to be had from investing in a proper travel/life insurance policy. “Each putter-out of five for one will bring us Good warrant of.”
The above excerpt from the play effectively means that a traveler, putting out one pound could expect a return of five if they safely returned from an obviously dangerous destination. Alas, if they did not return, the broker kept the investment.
1601: Across the English Channel, a statute (43 Eliz c. 12) outlined how and where cases involving marine insurance would be heard.
1600: Marine insurance in France developed with the publication of the Guidon de la Mer, a treatise on maritime law.
1583: The first instance of a life insurance contract ended in a court case. In England, William Gybbons purchased a term life insurance contract for a year for a 32 Pounds Sterling premium. Unfortunately, he died the same year and the issuer tried to revoke the agreement. A vigorous defense of this agreement ended with the family receiving almost 400 Pounds Sterling.
1574: Elizabeth I of England gave Richard Candaler the authority to create the Chamber of Assurance in London.
1559: Insurance was becoming big business. More than 500 people were employed by the insurance industry in Anvers, Amsterdam.
1552: Pedro de Santarem, a Portuguese lawyer, wrote the Treatise on Insurance, one of the first books on insurance. It was published in Venice. In this era, Portuguese traders were visiting ports in Africa on expeditions financed by Genoese investors. A number of variables, mostly relating to the increased marine trade, justified the refinement of insurance practices and regulations. The concept of insurance being a precautionary instrument, not-for-profit, was reinforced.
1458: Evidence of probability reasoning began after underwriters started to be able to determine the various risks to be considered in marine insurance. Benedetto Cotrugli, (1416-1469) one of the first to implement the double entry system of accounting, was one of the first to list these risks. In his book he wrote, [underwriters] “must recall that it is necessary to gather all the news that come from the sea and to pay special attention to them, to constantly ask for and inquire on pirates and evil people, wars, truces, reprisals and all the thing that may perturbe the sea. They must keep navigation maps on their desk and have a good knowledge of the seaports and the beaches, of the distance from one place to another, and they must take into account the condition of the captains, of the insured merchants, and of the vessels, and they must consider the merchandise, since all these elements are required.”
1435: Evidence that insurance was operating in Barcelona, Spain was found in the ordinances of the city.
1384: Another old policy was issued for the cargo of the ship Santa Clara. The voyage covered was from Pisa to Savon and the contents insured were four bales of textiles. The policy was worded in such a way as to avoid provoking the ire of the papacy and their vigilance against high interest rates.
1370: The first confirmed record of an actual insurance agreement was recorded at Bruges,Belgium, the work of a Genoese underwriter.
1347AD: In Genoa, an early policy covering a vessel was written in the form of a loan in order to avoid breaching papal policies.
1318 AD: The books of Francesco del Bene and Company, a Florentine merchant, contained references to insuring against losses by land and by sea.