Since its invention in Italy in the fourteenth century, marine insurance has provided merchants with capital protection in times of crisis, thus oiling the gears of trade and commerce. With a focus on customs, laws, and organisational structures, this book reveals the Italian origins of marine insurance, and tracks the spread of underwriting practices and institutions in Europe and America through the early modern era.
With contributions from eleven leading researchers from seven countries, the book examines key institutional developments in the history of marine insurance. The authors discuss its invention in Italy, and its evolution from private to corporate structures, assessing the causes and impacts of various state interventions.
Amsterdam and Antwerp are analysed as one-time key centres of underwriting, as is the emergence and maturity of marine insurance in London. The book evaluates an experiment in corporate underwriting in Cadiz, and the development of insurance institutions in the United States, before applying the metrics of underwriting to discuss commerce raiding in the Atlantic up to the nineteenth century.