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Highlights on Reinsurance History

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Edited By André Straus and Leonardo Caruana de las Cagigas

    Despite being one of the main pillars of the insurance industry, reinsurance is little known by the general public and is rarely the focus of academic study. In this book, the authors – economic historians and experts in the field from across Europe and Japan – seek to address this by shedding light on one of the most globalized of all economic activities. In a clear and engaging manner, they reveal the history of reinsurance in both national and international contexts, aiming to illuminate this vital, but often overlooked, aspect of insurance.

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    Developments in reinsurance are not known to the public. Nevertheless, they are very well-known to insurance companies. This is because reinsurance companies assure the insurance companies. This book, Highlights of Reinsurance History, represents the final publication of the papers presented at the 17th World Congress of Economic History in Kyoto (2015). In this pleasant Japanese city, we saw the first results of an ongoing project. It will continue with other academic meetings as new steps in the research.

    Reinsurance is one of the main actors in the insurance world. First, it allows the expansion of the insurance companies, and secondly, it plays a specific role in the case of big risk. After the 18th century, in order to assume more risk, the insurance market began with coinsurance. But this was not sufficient, and a more sophisticated system was developed from the mid-XIX century: reinsurance. Reinsurance companies grew and expanded throughout the world, even though they originated from only a handful of countries, Germany, Switzerland and France being the major players in the beginning. In fact, a very small number of companies, with huge capital, have control of the reinsurance market.

    Why are these companies so important? Mainly because one of the main purposes of reinsurance is to manage the worst periods of the insurance industry better. We are referring here to earthquakes, hurricanes or any other major disaster, in the event of which, obviously, an insurance company cannot assume the risk alone. Of course,...

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