Session 7: Risky Business: Building an Integrated Insurance Pricing Database

Thursday, July 21th 2022, 10:15–12:15 (CEST), Room U1, 195

Zoom-Link: | Meeting ID: 624 1584 5240

Session Organisers: Sabine Go (VU Amsterdam/University of Exeter), Giovanni Ceccarelli (University of Parma/University of Exeter), Antonio Iodice (University of Genoa/University of Exeter)

Contact: Sabine Go, Antonio Iodice


The main objectives of the Risky Business-project are to locate, collect and integrate existing datasets of insurance premiums into a newly designed and built database. Numerous researchers have datasets regarding a specific insurance market during a specific timeframe, but there is a risk that these individual datasets will be lost. Moreover, by combining these datasets, new opportunities for research will present themselves. We may then be able to compare the emergence of markets and the diffusion of marine insurance in various ports, compare the level of pricing between markets and if and how pricing in different markets were affected by certain events, like war or financial crises. At another level, we may gain insight in (international) business networks of underwriters, shipowners, and merchants.

The project now includes data from insurance markets in Italy, Belgium, the Netherlands and the UK, covering the period from late medieval until modern times. More data, including other ports and eras is being added and related projects are under development (Rischio di Mare).

The Risky Business database (RBdb) is an open access database in which users can find insurance premiums regarding certain routes in a set period, but users can also find information regarding the route network of a port, or even information about specific ships, underwriters or masters. The visual features of the RBdb make the database easily accessible and even if we are still uploading data, it already shows the patterns of geographical diffusion of marine insurance through time. By integrating individual datasets from various markets, countries, and regions, this database lends itself for both micro-historical analysis as well as comparative research.

1. From Data to Insights

  • Giovanni Ceccarelli, Department of Economics and Management, University of Parma/ Centre for Maritime Historical Studies, University of Exeter

2. Risky Business: the project, the network (and the challenges)

  • Sabine Go, Department of Accounting, VU Amsterdam

3. Handling Risky Business. Working with the Archival Sources and the DB

  • Antonio Iodice, Department of Economics, University of Genoa/ Centre for Maritime Historical Studies, University of Exeter

4. Global History of Insurance Online - an Open Access Repository

  • Martin Lengwiler, Department of History, Universität Basel
  • Eric Decker, Department of History, Universität Basel
  • Athira Kashamkattil, Department of History, Universität Basel