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Sunday, December 25, 2016

What You Didn't Know About Insurance Law

by Amelia Stenson

 Insurance law is basically the law that protects and regulates all aspects of insurance and can be broken down into two distinct categories:

the regulation of the actual business of insurance and
the regulations pertaining to insurance claims.

What is interesting is that man first started thinking of risk management A.D. already, so although there were no insurance lawyers per se, there were a number of rather astute merchants who realised the value of protecting their assets by an informal arrangement; the precursor to the formality of insurance law.

Ancient Chinese were the "founders" of risk management

Ancient civilisations were the catalysts for the more modern concept of insurance, with Chinese merchants arguably the "founders" of risk management. These ancient traders often had to transport their wares along wild and treacherous rivers to the nearest market, where loss of both life and merchandise was common place. In an effort to reduce the risk, they would distribute their goods across a number of sailing vessels.

According to the celebrated Code of Hammurabi penned in 1750 BC, the Babylonians were the first people to pay additional fees as insurance; the original insurance premium. If a merchant applied for and received a loan from the moneylenders to fund a shipment, he would also cough up a little extra as a guarantee that the lender would cancel the loan in the case of the shipment being lost or stolen.

It was the ancient Roman and Greek civilisations, however, that formed fledgling "life insurance" companies around 600 AD. They would organise associations or benevolent clubs that were committed to the care of the family in the case of the member's death and would also fork out for the funeral costs - "friendly" life insurance.

The Great Fire of London was the catalyst for one of the first insurance companies

Way back in 1666, the city of London was virtually destroyed by fire and a rather intelligent Englishman, Nicholas Barbon, saw the perfect niche market for him and his merry men. After an estimated 13,000 dwellings were razed by the Great Fire of London, Barbon set up "The Fire Office", which was a business dedicated to the exclusive insurance of buildings.

Insurance business susceptible to irregularities

Another interesting snippet of information is the fact that insurance companies, like all other businesses out there, are susceptible to all sorts of illegal machinations.

A recent example of insurance irregularities was in 2006 when European insurance giant, Zurich Financial Services, was nabbed for bid rigging and price fixing. Fortunately, the relevant insurance regulator put a stop to this anti-competitive stance and the company had to cough up $171 million in settlement plus an additional $122 million in refunds!

DSC Attorneys is a Cape Town-based law firm of specialist personal injury attorneys who professionally handle all personal injurys, medical malpractice and road accident claims, as well as covering banking law, insurance law and property law, amongst others.

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