History of Life Assurance

The earliest form of insurance was Marine Insurance and the first policies date back to the 13th century in Genoa & Palermo. Life Assurance policies commenced in the 16th century mainly for people between 12 and 45 and the first traceable policy dates back to 1588. The premium was the same whether you were 13 or 44 !!! How about that? However it really took off with the establishment of the Society of Widows & Orphans in 1699 over 100 years later.

In 1530 there were 30 sworn insurance brokers producing policies underwritten by London merchants. In 1712 this became known as Lloyds as brokers used to meet in Edward Lloyds coffee shop where information was exchanged. The earliest known life assurance policy was issued in 1588 and was for those aged between 12 and 45.

The first Death in Service policy was started in 1852 by Provident Clerks Mutual Benefit Society who started business in 1846 and later became part of General Accident.

Norwich Union commenced business in 1797 and was known as Norwich Union Fire Insurance Society and it specialised in Fire Insurance. All British insurance companies offering fire insurance where known as Fire Societies and business was restricted to London. These insurers owned all the Fire Brigades and the last fire brigade to come under municipal control was Worcester in 1929. The naming and numbering of streets was very haphazard until1840, which was over 100 years after Building & Contents insurance started, until the introduction of the Postal System. Before then insurance companies attached metal plates or fire marks to houses they had insured.

Moving on to the present day most personal insurance is taken out to prevent properties being repossessed in the event of long term illness/injury or to replace the income should the main breadwinner die prematurely. Not leaving a family behind that would probably run into financial difficulties is a very important aspect of financial planning as the lump sum from a life assurance policy can be invested to produce the income that has been lost. Winston Churchill is quoted as saying that each household should have insured written on their front door as that’s how important he felt it was.

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