You Bet Your Life.
1. Life insurance is not really betting although it can be compared to it. You pay the money just in case. In this day and age, we think of insurance as a natural thing. If we scrape a fender or injure ourselves at work, we know that there is some sort of payment that we can get through insurance. Of course, we don't get it for nothing; we make payments to the companies. If we don't use the insurance, the companies keep the money.
2."Insurance" is the term that we understand today. Some companies are beginning to use the term "assurance“. As a matter of fact, Charles Babbage, over one hundred years ago, felt that "assurance" was a better term. Apparently few others did, because "insurance" has stayed with us until today.
3. How old is insurance? Two hundred years? A thousand? Or is it as old as man? I suppose that would depend upon what you mean. We might say that "insurance" was with us while man was just beginning to develop civilization. One family or tribe might feel that they would be helped if they helped to protect another family or tribe. In this way, both groups got what they needed-protection from enemies. Of course, you and I don't need that kind of protection today.
4. This system of trading services with each other has been with us for quite a while. The idea of an old age pension is certainly older than you might think. Today you think of social security or some other system. Most people who retire are still able to receive money that they have paid into the system during their working days. The idea of a reward for services like this is quite an old one. The trouble was that the reward was not always given to everyone, nor was it given to those who deserved it most.
5. What happened when man began to move into the cities from the farms? He found that he could no longer support himself by growing his own food. His children and relatives might move away to another city, and there might be no way of earning enough money. Perhaps because of this, the idea of social security and insurance developed. Now insurance companies are near the top of the list of the biggest business in the United States.
6. Some of the first commercial insurance companies began around 1580 in England. These companies were some of the first to accept payment for insurance. Fire insurance became more popular after the fire in London in 1666.This was one of the most terrible fires in history. It lasted for five days. London had to be rebuilt almost completely. No wonder that many people decided to try fire insurance after that.
7. We think today's insurance companies are large, but there was also a pretty big company about two hundred years ago in England. The company still does business. The name of the company is Lloyd's of London. It carried more than ￡600,000 of insurance between 1793&1815.The England pound was then worth many times what it is worth today; so you can see how big Lloyd's was then. Of course, it didn't make money all the time. For example, around 1975 the company paid a claim of ￡190,000.In American money, that would be nearly half a million dollars.
8. Lloyd's has become famous for some of the unusual things it has insured. For instance Lloyd has insured against the birth of twins. If twins had been born to the family insured, the company would have had to pay a certain amount of money to the parents. You can see in this example that some insurance is a little like gambling. There have also been many cases of famous performers or athletes who have insured themselves against accidents. Suppose a very good actor feared that his looks could be injured. If they were, he would not be able to make a living as an actor. Therefore, he might attempt to insure himself against that possibility.
9. Now there are companies that will insure people for damage caused by a sonic boom. A sonic boom is the loud crash and shaking that happens when a jet plane goes faster than the speed of sound. When this happens, a shock wave hits the earth and may break windows or cause ceilings to crack. If you're not near an airport used by jets, you may not need to worry about sonic booms, but some people do suffer damage in this way. They want to make sure that they don't have to pay all the repair bills themselves.
10. From protection against enemies to social security to sonic booms, insurance has come a long way.