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For a variety of reasons related to the Roman economy vs our own, I suddenly wondered if the Romans had any kind of insurance in at least the commercial sense? Shipping losses could be horrendous; was there any concept of underwriting?
Richard Campbell
Legio XX - Alexandria, Virginia
RAT member #6?
I know that the Romans had benevolent societies which had a sort of life and health insurance and Roman guilds had insurance contracts for its members. I am not entirely sure if that is helpful or not, but hopefully its a start.
Yes, and they also had government bailouts of mutual benefit societies. Monuments have been found dating from the Antonine plague where these funerary groups had so many members die they couldn't cope and asked for financial assistance.

By the way, Richard, I searched Livy for that episode of "commercial insurance" during the Punic War, as was mentioned on the Facebook question, but I can't find it. I know I wasn't dreaming, but I can't remember where it was.
David J. Cord
Perhaps the way to get forward is a search for gambling. The first western insurances (in the early seventeenth century) were wagers. If, for example, a merchant sent out a ship to the Indies, he bet that it would not return. If the ship was lost, he was compensated by winning his bet.
Jona Lendering
Relevance is the enemy of history
My website

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