Insurance and the Titanic

           The Titanic tested the insurance industry. Ships of its luxury and scale were novel, bringing into question the correct pricing for insurance coverage on such a ship. In the end, it seemed that underwriters underpriced the risk, since when the Titanic’s sister ship Olympic secured coverage for its next transatlantic crossing after Titanic’s sinking, the

Ulpian and Roman Annuities

           Life insurance contracts, life annuities, and an array of transactions relating to estates and inheritances are contingent on lifespan. It would make sense that some method of valuing these life-contingent transactions would have been formulated long ago, even in the absence of good demographic data. As it happens, life annuities were common in ancient Rome

The First Terrorism-Linked Bonds

           The first insurance companies were launched in the 18th century, the first reinsurance companies in the 19th, and the first insurance-linked securities in the 20th. This steady development in the insurance market helped make property and casualty insurance universally accessible and competitively priced. It has also reduced the riskiness of insurance operations, bringing stability and

Pool Re and Terrorism Insurance

             Insurance companies have decades or even centuries of experience insuring against many perils, from storms to fires. But some risks are harder to insure against than others. Some perils occur too infrequently to have high confidence in any calculated probability of occurrence. Others can cause extremely extensive damage when they do occur. Still other perils

Insurance for All

           The government in Germany is said to have created the first welfare state in the 19th century, built around social insurance schemes protecting against sickness, workplace accidents, and other hazards. In Britain, the government began building its own welfare state a few decades later, organizing it around principals of insurance as well. However, the British

The World Bank’s Pandemic Bonds

           Insurance works courtesy of the law of large numbers. Every year, some number of homes burn down and some proportion of cars crash and these events may be unpredictable to any one insured person. To an insurer though, the occurrence of such mishaps across their portfolios is actually quite predictable. However, insurers also have a

Hull Clubs and Mutual Marine Insurance

           Marine insurance is one of the oldest forms of insurance. In Europe, it traces its history to the Late Middle Ages and even predates life insurance, at least in continuous widespread use. In the 17th and 18th centuries, the insurance industry became increasingly sophisticated and even recognizable to modern eyes. Insurance marketplaces were formed, like

Cornelius Vander Starr

           Governments had to come to the rescue of many firms during the 2007-09 financial crisis and one of the largest rescues was that of American International Group (AIG). Unlike most of the other firms teetering on the brink, AIG was an insurance company and not a bank. It was also a particularly international firm; not

Pinochet, Pensions, and Chilean Markets

           Among the most dramatic and controversial economic transformations pursued in any country was that launched in Chile after the 1973 coup that brought General Augusto Pinochet to power. The civilian administrators he entrusted with the nation’s economy went about turning it into a neoliberal experiment. Their reforms included a restructuring of the country’s dated pension

Funding Canada’s Nation-Building Railroad

           Projects of immediate national significance, even when privately owned, are infrequently left to their own management and their own devices. Acceptance of government regulation in exchange for subsidies or other concessions usually constitutes the manner in which such projects get off the ground, especially for those that attempt something never done before. Private entrepreneurship, critical

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