Although different forms of risk-sharing – sometimes in ‘benevolent societies’ – goes way back before biblical times, the UK is responsible for inventing modern insurance companies when they sprang up to insure against fire after the great fire of London.
The UK insurance industry is still huge – we have the fourth largest industry in the world and are the biggest exporter.
In this guide, we look at insurance companies’ investment and climate policies, their more shady political activities, and at their responses to COVID-19.
What this guide covers
There are two types of company that sell insurance – underwriters and brokers. The underwriter is the actual insurance company, that pays out on the claims. While they do often sell directly to the public, many also sell through brokers such as the AA, which take commission.
As usual, we are only covering underwriters in this guide because there are too many brokers to cover – hundreds in the UK. If you are buying through a broker, you should be able to find out the underwriter from the ‘Key Facts’ document which must be provided when you’re considering buying a policy. Comparison websites will also sometimes tell you.
To complicate matters, underwriters sometimes have their own underwriters, as they may re-insure a specific risk via a different underwriter.