The development of marine insurance

The evolution of insurances follows the development of sea trade and marine insurance in particular. The marine insurances had a critical influence on all other types of insurance, but mainly on transportation insurance.

The marine insurance was born in Italy, in Rome to be more specific. During the Middle Ages, the marine insurance was the brain child of Italian state-towns. The first occurrence of a marine insurance dates from the beginning of the XIVth century.


During the XVth century, the town of Bruges was one of the most prominent centers for marine insurances. After a while, Spain (Barcelona) started to practice this type of insurance, due to its commercial ties with Italy. Barcelona was the first town to try to regulate marine insurances in Spain through a decree.

It seems that, in England, the most famous insurance premium dates from the 15th of February 1613, but some researchers believe that it was prior to this date. The historical data show a very clear image of marine insurances in XVIth century London.  For instance, Lombard Street was the most famous place for marine insurances, due to the customs, traditions and contractual obligations which came with it. Marine insurances in the XVIth century was characterized by the total lack of insurances by insurance companies, rather they were based on the personal liability of the person who took the risk. Signs of an evolution in the structuring of the insurance market started to appear at the end of the XVI century. One was the creation in 1570 of the Royal Exchange, inaugurated by Queen Elisabeth on the 23th of July 1570. The second step was the creation of the Chamber of Assurances as part of the Royal Exchange, in 1576.

The third step toward harmonization was the adoption in 1601 of the law of marine insurances – Act Touching Policies Assurances used among merchants, the first act in the English legislation which regulated marine insurances. The law did not survive for long, yet its importance is given by the fact that it was the first attempt to regulate this sector.