The roots of insurance go way back to Babylonia, where traders were encouraged to assume the risks of the caravan trade with funds to be paid only after the goods had arrived safely. The Phoenicians and the Greeks soon hopped onto that bandwagon and utilized a similar system for their seaborne commerce. The Romans were innovative as well and used “burial clubs” as a form of life insurance, by providing funeral expenses for members and later making payments to their survivors.
As towns grew and trade spurted up around Europe, many medieval guilds undertook measures to protect their members from loss by fire and shipwreck, or provide ransom from captivity by pirates, and to provide decent burial and support in times of sickness and poverty. The earliest known insurance contract was in Genoa, Italy in 1347 and soon marine insurance became practically universal among the maritime nations of Europe.