Insurance began as a way to reduce the risk for merchants, as early as 2000 BC in China and 1750 BC in Babylon. Life insurance dates back to ancient Rome, "burial clubs" covered the cost of members' funeral expenses and assisted survivors financially. Modern Life Insurance originated in 17th century England, originally as insurance for traders. The merchants, ship owners and underwriters met to discuss deals at Lloyd's Coffee House, predecessor to the famous Lloyd's of London. The first society to sell life insurance was the Amicable Society Perpetual Assurance Office.
The first insurance company in the United States was formed in Charleston, South Carolina in 1732, but it provided only fire insurance. The sale of life insurance in the U.S. began in the late 1760s. The Presbyterian Synod in Philadelphia and New York created the Corporation for the relief of widows and poor children and poor of Presbyterian Ministers in 1759, Episcopal priests organized a similar fund in 1769. Between 1787 and 1837 he launched more than two dozen life insurance companies, but fewer than half a dozen survived.
Before the American Civil War, many insurance companies in the United States say the life of the slaves to their owners. In response to bills passed in California in 2001 and in Illinois in 2003, companies have been required to search their records for such policies. New York Life for example reported that Nautilus sold 485 slave life insurance for a period of two years in the 1840s, they added that their trustees voted to end the sale of such policies 15 years before the Emancipation Proclamation.