Marine insurance has existed as long as ships. In its modern form it goes back to the 14th century, to the main mercantile maritime centre of the age, the Italian peninsula. In the 18th century Lombard merchants who emigrated to England brought with them the know-how on insuring ships and cargoes. It was in Britain, the world's greatest naval power during the 18th and 19th centuries, that the technique of sharing rask among many merchants, the system of marinε insurance as we know it today, developed. In the late 17th century Edward Lloyd's coffee house was the popular venue where merchants,underwriters and shipowners met to insure cargoes and ships, as well as to buy and sell. During the 19th and 20th centuries Lloyd's grew into the largest marine insurance market in the world.
The marine insurance companies in Greece operated mainly as underwriters and bottomries. They were usually anonymous share companies. The insuring of risks at sea concerned either the ship itself or the goods being carried in the Mediterranean and the Black Sea. The main centre of insurance offices in Greece during the 19th century was Hermoupolis, Syros, where the first insurance company was founded in 1825, known after 1829 as the 'Greek Insurance Office'. Insurance offices also existed on Cephalonia, Ithaka, Andros and Chios, as well as at Galaxeidi. However,a significant part of the insurance of Greek ships was undertaken in centres with expatriate Greek communities,mainly in offices in Odessa and Trieste, in which Greek merchants also participated. In addition to share insurance companies, mutual insurance organizations/unions of shipowners, which are referred to as 'marine mutual insurance' or 'joint liability insurance',appeared in various Greek maritime centres, in exactly the same way and at precisely the same time as they were established in various ports/harbours outside London in Britain. These unions were founded by each of the participant shipowners depositing a certain sum of money. The compensation paid for losses was not unlimited but covered an amount defined by the statutes and extended not only to vessels and cargoes by also to certain risks of petty insurance that are covered by today's P&I Clubs. The transition to steam and the rapid replacement of sailing ships by steamships in the late 19th century signalled the
demise of the Greek marine insurance companies and mutual insurance organizations in Greece. Henceforth Greek steamships were insured in the London underwriting market,and in particular at Lloyd's
The first Greek register of shipping, 'Archangelos' was
inaugurated on 1 January 1870. Its driving force and first director, Ioannis Skaltsounis, had founded the marine insurance company 'Archangelos' in Cephalonia, in 1854. In 1870 this company became a larger public firm which according to its statutes was active in three main fields: as a shipping register, a shipping bank and a marine insurrance company. Its first board of directors included distinguished figures of the day. 'Archangelos' was acknowledged by its corresponding European shipping registers and issued certificates necessary for foreign underwriters. It established agencies in all the major ports of the Mediterranean, the Black Sea and Northern Europe, and soon acquired an international character, also registering ships sailing under non-Greek flags. Unfortunately during the 1880s, on account of the great crisis of sailing ships and the transition to steam, the 'Archangelos' shipping bank and insurance company collapsed. The register of shipping continued in another corporate form as Hellenic Veritas until 1895, after which its traces are lost. It was 20 years before a another Greek register of shipping operated.