Transport, Marine Insurance and Marine Cargo Insurance – The Oldest Profession
By Insurance Blogger Paul Magus
Insurance brokers were already an established feature of the London Commercial and Finance scene by the time of Queen Anne. At the beginning of the Eighteenth Century Stuart and Hanoverian England controlled most of the trade runs around the Globe and the British Empire was in its early heyday.
Insurance Brokers came into existence because the marine insurance of ships (hulls and cargoes) emerged slowly as the part-time occupation of a large and disorganised group of private individuals, some with specialised knowledge such as merchants, ship owners and bankers, but including a wide range of people whose only common characteristic was that they had capital to speculate and large profits were available for risk seekers during these enterprising times of discovery. The first insurance broker was a Marine insurance broker and came into being as a response to a need at the time.
This miscellaneous group of individuals included, at one time or another, such diverse figures as Samuel Pepys, the Admiralty civil servant and famous diarist, and Daniel Defoe, the celebrated journalist and novelist, but no doubt there were hundreds if not thousands of others who, in the gambling spirit of the age, were willing to put their signature to, that is to underwrite, a list of people sharing a risk.
Because of the hazardous nature of marine insurance, no one would gamble more than a fraction of his (or her) fortune on any particular vessel, and so someone had to run round the City to assemble a list of names to provide cover for each of the ships leaving port, the so called Lloyds List provided by an early bookies runner.
As Gibb writes in his Lloyds of London, the brokers were the fixed point in a floating market.
It was they who were the professionals, the full-time men who depended on insurance for their daily work and livelihoods, who kept recognised offices, knew the responsible underwriters and, through long experience, were best informed on the nature of marine risk.
Over the next 300 years of so until the present day, the evolution of insurance broking saw many ups and downs, but was characterised by three outstanding features: the growth, diversification and, most recently, amalgamation of insurance broker firms. Insurance products themselves have followed the insurance broker evolutionary path and likewise responded to the needs of the times.
How Mr Pepys would marvel at the way Insurance is now transacted everywhere across the Internet. Marine Insurance is readily available online today for global cover and risks and can as easily be obtained by the small boat owner seeking boat insurance cover as the large shipping magnate looking for cruise ship insurance. Equally available, Freight Forwarders Insurance and Marine Cargo Insurance< advice, risk information and quotes can also now easily be obtained online, as can tracking the progress of shipments.