The Origin of Shipping & Insurance

By F. R. Chowdhury

Shipping is one of the oldest businesses in the world. Risk management and insurance is also equally old business. They are closely linked with one another. In fact the development of insurance took place in support of the shipping industry.

In the early days the ship-owner, trader and ship-captain was a single entity. A rich influential person got a ship built, procured some commodity that is readily available in his area and then sailed to another place for business. He would normally barter the goods in exchange of commodity available in the new land. Gradually gold and then coins and currency became medium of exchange. Fortune favours the brave. The pioneer in shipping gradually became a rich man. He was not anymore ready to undergo all the rolling and pitching at sea. He employed a trusted man as the captain of his ship. He still remained owner of the ship and the cargo. However, those days with no radio telecommunication there was no way for him to know anything until the ship was sighted on the horizon again. Some time the ship was never seen again – either lost at sea or hijacked by pirates.
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