Skip to main content

The history of insurance

Red and white lighthouse on a hill near the shore

1666 – The birth of home insurance was linked to The Great Fire of London, which was estimated to have destroyed almost 90 per cent of the city’s homes.

One of the first iterations of home insurance included the practice of putting a metal plaque called a fire mark in a prominent place on the outside of homes. A fire mark indicated to fire fighters that the building was insured and that saving the building was a priority in the case of a fire.


1804 – The first company to offer insurance in Canada, the Phoenix Assurance Company, opened an office in Montreal.

Fire risk was the biggest insurance concern in the 1800s and early 1900s. As more risks were identified, and interest in insuring against these risks grew, separate policies for each were created. In those days, you would have to purchase separate policies for fire, lightning strikes, earthquakes, theft, etc.

1950 – The primary risk continued to be fire, setting the foundation for the introduction of the modern concept of home insurance. For the first time, customers can purchase insurance against multiple risks in one all-encompassing policy.

Present – Over the past 30 years, Canada and the rest of the world have experienced an alarming increase in catastrophic losses due to severe weather events.


Innovation, technology and changing weather – these factors will open new possibilities, introduce new risks, change consumer behavior, and alter how we insure your home, auto and business. As these factors evolve and become available to consumers, insurance will need to continue to change to protect customers and business owners alike.

Among these include:

  • Telematics
  • Driverless Cars
  • Ride Sharing
  • Weather-related Events
  • Cyber Threats
  • Drone Technology


Article tags