The growth of insurance industry is associated with the general growth of industry, trade and commerce. The origin of insurance services may be traced back to 14th Century in Italy when ships carrying goods were covered under different perils. Thus marine insurance become oldest insurance practice. The systematic and orderly beginning of the insurance industry took place in UK at Lloyds coffee house in Tower Street in London. In developing countries, insurance sector has assumed special significance as it has the potential to speed up the rate of growth of the economy. Insurance Industry assists the development process of an economy in several ways. Primarily, it acts as mobiliser of savings, financial intermediary promoter of investment activity, stabilizer of financial market, risk manager and an agent to allocate capital resources efficiently.

Although the insurance industry has grown rapidly in the industrialized countries. Its growth in developing countries has neither been satisfactory nor in tandem with the growth of other sectors of the economy. The most industrialized countries in the world still account for 88% of global premium volume. The share of developing countries is extremely low. The slow growth insurance services in developing countries calls for an in-depth analysis of the nature and pattern of the evolution of these services policies pursued to develop the insurance industry and constraints thereof also need close examination.

The Indian History of Insurance

Regrettably, the Indian insurance industry has lagged behind even amongst the developing countries of the world. Although general insurance services started in India about 150 years ago, their growth has been dilatory, as reflected by low insurance penetration and density. Several factors are responsible for this state of affairs, the chief being the monopoly status of the industry till recently. The life insurance business was nationalized in 1956 and the general insurance industry in 1973. The lack of competition has impeded the development of insurance industry in India, resulting in low productivity and poor quality of customer services. The process of liberalization and globalization of the Indian economy started in right earnest in mid-1980s. The market mechanism was the motivating factor underlying the new economic policy. In consonance with the new economic policy, insurance sector was opened up for the private sector in 1999. The new competitive environment is expected to benefit the consumers, industry and the economy at large. The consumer will have a greater choice in terms of number and quality of products, low premium rates, efficient after sales services while the economy will benefit in terms of larger flow of savings, increased availability of investible funds for long term projects, enhanced productivity and growth of multiple debt instruments.

Life Insurance had its beginning in ancient Rome, where citizens formed burial clubs that would meet the funeral expenses of its members as well as help survivals by making its payments. The first stock company to get into the business of insurance was chartered in England in 1720. In the year 1735 saw the birth of the first insurance company in American Colonies in Charleston. In 1759, the Presbyterian Synod of Philadelphia sponsored the first Life Insurance Corporation in America. However, it was after 1840 that Life Insurance really took off in a big way.

The 19th century saw huge developments in the field of insurance with the newer products being devised to meet growing needs. The history of insurance in our country is somewhat darken. The earliest reference of life insurance was available in the days of East India Company, when the policies were taken only by the British officers. The policy was issued by British officers in sterling currency. Oriental was the first foreign insurance company established in India in 1818. Foreigners, orphans and widows were become subject matter for the oriental company. The company started accepting the Indians in 1934 due to the efforts of Babu Muttylai seal. 'Bombay Life', a company had issued short term policies for 2-3 years in 1823. Raja Ram Mohan Roy, the man who pleaded for protecting widows through government insurance ‘Bombay Mutual Life Assurance Society was established by some prominent citizens of Bombay in 1871. European merchant also started ‘Bombay Insurance Society’ in 1893 by voluntary efforts. Mr. Curstjee Furdoonju was the first insured person of India. This policy was insured in 1848 by royal Insurance which started in 1845. It was the beginning of the Indian insurance venture.