Insurance – paying to spread risk – is an ancient practice. Modern insurance, where businesses specifically focus on assuming the risk of loss for a third-party is a more modern practice.
The Hamburger Feuerkasse (Hamburg Fire Office) opened in 1676. Fire insurance spread throughout Europe. Eventually, Lloyd’s of London popularized shipping insurance, where people willing to insure the arrival of ships. Individual insurers, called underwriters, signed their name underneath one another.
Fire insurers ran private fire departments and if a building did not have fire insurance the fire department did not respond.
Life insurance dates to 1706; the first company to offer it was the Amicable Society for a Perpetual Assurance Office of London.