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silky1's avatar

Where did the concept of life insurance originate?

Asked by silky1 (1510points) November 4th, 2010

How did the life insurance policy begin?

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lillycoyote's avatar

The Romans invented it, of course: The Origins of LIfe Insurance. The Romans also invented the speed bump. They were very clever.

wundayatta's avatar

I was at a lecture by someone who was a former Insurance Commissioner for a state—it could have been Texas. His lecture started with the history of insurance, and if I remember correctly, the first form of insurance was mutual insurance and it was a compact between the ship owners in England. They were concerned about losing a cargo, which would ruin them. So they banded together and agreed that if anyone’s ship should go down, they would all pay a certain amount that would put that person back in business.

From that principle—that we get together to share the risk of loss—rose the insurance industry and all other forms of insurance. Even today, new forms of insurance are being developed as people want to reduce their risk.

Life insurance protects your dependents against the consequences of a premature death. Normally, we expect a person to live to retirement and to make enough money to make sure their dependents don’t end up in the poorhouse.

I don’t know if you want a primer in how they set life insurance rates. So I won’t go there.

I just checked out @lillycoyote‘s link and lo and behold, in the sixth paragraph, it adds a few details to what I have just described. It might not be the first instance of insurance, but it is where the modern day insurance product was first created. And if you want to learn a little about actuarial analysis, you can read about it in that article.

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