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medieval-insurance

The History Of Insurance

I get an annual deer-in-the-headlights situation whenever my insurance is about to lapse because just about that same period my pockets tend to drain faster than the NYS kitty. Today is about that period and my cellphone has been buzzing with reminders that I have a few days to pay for my car policy or else… Everything seems grey and all hopes of catching up with friends this weekend over a jug of sangria seem a world away.

It’s days like these I toy around the idea of being born in the medieval age where my only concern would be how tight my corset is, never mind that insurance started long before that.

Forgive my Spartan addiction but my imagery of Greeks and Romans has always been that of chisel shaped men, tall with stellar bodies, cunning charm with white clothes draping them and a penchant for all things war – your typical knight in shining armor. Non?

In the early 600AD the Greeks had the concept of health and life insurance down to a tee. The oxymoron is not lost in me that these cautious yet bravado looking men ensured that incase of their demise the funerals were covered and they had a proper burial rite. No wonder they had no qualms going to the battlefield donned with sandals and a sword chanting “This is Sparta “.

If you think The Donald’s campaign in the US has a problem with Chinese manufacturing, we haven’t met yet but that’s a story for another day. The Chinese innovativeness is no mean feat. As early as the 3rd millennial BC they had somewhat grasped the concept of risk aversion by distributing their wares into different vessels due to the rapid rivers they had to navigate, just in case one capsized.

Quite the paradox, one would think with all the travelling since the BC’S they would have adopted a second language, but no, they will make a quick sale using the two or less familiar words they know. Woe unto you, if you don’t insure that merchandise and good luck figuring out which Asian wearing a ‘makuti’ hat sold it to you.

All these instances gave effect to the mutual assistance in case of loss. Insurance became far more sophisticated in post renaissance Europe and specialized varieties developed. Insurance - as we know it today - can be traced to the Great Fire of London of 1666 that ravaged London from Sunday 2nd to Wednesday 5th September.

The Great Fire cost London an estimated £10 million, at a time when its annual income was just £12,000. By the end of the 17th century, three London societies were actively engaged in the risk aversion business. Insurance had become accepted practice – farmers wanted crop insurance, travelers wanted travel insurance and everybody turned to insurers to buy peace of mind.

To make a long story short, insurance (today) is being conducted over a vast array of "lines of business" that encompass personal, commercial, marine, aviation, agriculture, life, health, financial and engineering insurance. Virtually anything - from the mundane to the bizarre - can be insured.

The history of insurance has certainly evolved over the years with new premium packages being introduced into the market. Just in case you’re wondering if I am driving about town rolling up my windows and acting stern whenever I see a police check, lest they come gazing at my windscreen to find an expired insurance, am having none of that. New companies such as Bima Exchange have great rates and flexible payment plan in. With that behind me I can enjoy my jug of sangria or maybe make them two and then Uber home.

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