If we turn the clock back to the earliest forms of civilization it appears that types of insurance have been apart of the society. Money as we know it today that's become the backbone of any financial institute took on different forms. These gestures may have been goods in return for help when indeed needed and in many instances it was simply the case of offering to help a person then knowing later on that they would return the favour if required. Basically, you scratch my back and I'll scratch yours. This type of insurance still exists today in some communities where they will all rally round if a person or family needs assistance. For example, if the home became damaged or destroyed other families pull together and repair the damage and if need be build a new home. Then that family would also do the same to help another family. If you didn't participate then you would receive no help in the future. This type of insurance is popular where it takes place because communities that contribute are close-knitted and don't see it as a chore but more of a helping hand to one of their neighbours.
Other early insurance schemes date back to the Bronze Age in ancient China where by boats crossing precarious rivers would distribute their cargos to several vessels the same as not carrying all your eggs in one basket. If six boats were to join forces then each would ship 1/6th of their own stock and 5/6ths of the five remaining vessels stock. Again this kept all involved happy with each boat taking part guaranteeing that some of their valued shipments would always reach the other side in the event of their vessel been lost.
The oldest documented insurance contract is dated to the 14th century in Genoa. This again derives from the shipping industry with larger and more valuable cargo been transported from country to country and with it a demand for some sort of assurance for the cargo onboard. The people who backed or covered these dangerous journeys were typically wealthy land owners from the highest classes in society. The majority of these gentlemen would also finance the trip and in return for having their money put at risk in this way and of course a safe arrival of the ship and its cargo they would be paid generously. If the trip ended in disaster as many did then they would be substantially out of pocket. Their backing wasn't limited to just one vessel but several at a time. The revenue to be made was certainly attractive even if only half of the ships made it to their destination the financial return would still see them make a profit.
The 1600's saw London fast becoming a major dominant player in the world insurance market with its ever expanding global trade. A gentleman named Edward Lloyd played an important role when he opened a coffee house 1866 and it soon established itself as a great source for the latest shipping news across most of the world. It was here that Captains and owners of vessels held their meeting to find the best deals on the table and to seek advice in relation to these matters. Today Lloyds of London as its known is synonymous with the insurance industry and its members and underwriters are regarded as some of the best at what they do. Some make the mistake of confusing Lloyds TSB with Lloyds of London but they are two entirely different organisations. Also Lloyds of London is not an insurance company as such it's more of a business exchange for the financial globe that regulates and implements rules for the market.
Another turning point in the history of insurance came after the great fire of London in 1666 which saw over 13000 homes go up in flames after a bakery caught fire. The inferno lasted 3 days from 2nd of September to the 5th and remarkably only 6 people were recorded to have lost their lives. The aftermath of it all caused a Mr Nicholas Barbon to set up a new office offering building insurance.
The USA soon followed, and in 1732 the first company offering fire cover came from a firm in Charleston, then known as Charlestown. Probably though, the man who really introduced cover in the USA was Benjamin Franklin in 1752 when he established Philadelphia Contribution-ship for the Insurance of Houses from Loss by Fire. This company also made the first underwriting in America where it refused to insure wooden houses and in addition made it clear what it required to get a premium. A decade later life insurance made its way into the market and reports from this time suggest that more than a dozen companies were created per week who wanted to jump on the bandwagon with the vast bulk of them not surviving more than several months.
Surprisingly it wasn't until the 1970's and 80's that it became compulsory that car drivers were required to have some sort of insurance, at minimum 3rd party or in the USA liability which covers damage or injury to another's property or person. Not all states in America require this kind of cover; one in particular is New Hampshire but you don't at your own risk. Other states like North Carolina entail that you have insurance before allowing you to hold a driving license.