Car insurance, health insurance, life insurance, (there’s a concept!), home insurance, business insurance, whatever insurance you chose it’s always been a gamble. A gamble that you have paid for enough coverage, that the company will settle a claim fairly and adequately, a gamble that the terms of the policy include the damages incurred. It is an interesting fact about insurance and the business of insurance that its roots are firmly entrenched in gambling.
When the spice trade enlarged the scale of the British empire, great fortunes were on the line with every ship that sailed to or from the far east searching for the precious cargo that would render English cooking palatable, (the search continues). Most of these journeys were financed by wealthy individuals who had little more to do than lounge about in great rooms, smoking pipes and laying wagers upon the outcome of the most recent fox hunt, cricket match or marital infidelity. It wasn’t long before these idle rich placed sums upon the success of their sailing ventures, and the profitability of the excursions. Great sums were soon at risk an the wiser of these potentates hedged their bets by hiring the soberest of captains, building the most seaworthy ships and plying the safest courses. In short order, Lloyd’s of London was born, a firm that saw to each and every one of these mundane details so the grey-haired, silk suited gadabouts could tend to more important matters, like inventing the sandwich.
Lloyd’s of London saw to these matters in a most professional way, running all the numbers, covering all the angles, accounting for all possibilities and indeed, creating the first actuarial tables to place a value on even seemingly trivial minutiae. And it warranted it’s work, guaranteeing the thorough nature of its investigations and efforts with cold hard cash. If Lloyd’s said your current captain, ship and spices had a ninety four percent chance of making a profit if it sailed on the fourth of January, then by gumfrys, they loosed the lines and headed down Thames at noon on the dot. The old birds in their leather loungers sat a bit more pleasantly at their brandy snifters knowing they were insured success.
In short order insurance became a matter of fact in almost every aspect of daily life. Homes were known to burn down, sending scurrying citizens in nightshirts into the streets, but with house or fire insurance these residents found a roof at bedtime once again. Insurance, as a business, wasn’t going to pay people who were careless with candles around drapes for house after house so safety and sensibility led to improvements like the LED light bulb which is cool the the touch and comes in a rainbow of colors.
Automobile insurance, or auto insurance was implemented soon after Busby Berkeley led a campaign to curb the antics of the keystone cops, a notoriously inept core of drivers who put equestrians, pedestrians and centenarians all equally at peril in the early days of the auto. Today car insurance covers liability, collision, theft and there are even no-fault policies that will compensate drivers eating tacos and texting while under the influence. It’s verily a wunderful world we live in.