We are supported by readers, when you click & purchase through links on our site we earn affiliate commission. Learn more.

Pay please! 2 pounds of safe driving: the first auto insurance

Exactly 10 years after the patent for the automobile, the first car insurance was offered in Great Britain. It emerged as a kind of negation: The still young insurance company General Accident did not want to offer insurance for horse-drawn carriages that were involved in numerous accidents and expensive claims processing.

From November 2, 1896, 125 years ago today, it cost 2 pounds sterling a month for the first time (today the equivalent of 272.93 pounds or 321.17 euros) to insure the power carriage against broken tires and accidental damage. Back then, nobody thought of liability or theft insurance. Insurance was still a bet on the future, as there were only 20 power carriages in Great Britain at that time. Damage caused by accidents with horse-drawn cabs was not covered by the insurance.

The insurance was inspired by the first fatal car accident: On August 17, 1896, the worker Bridget Driscoll was hit by a Roger Benz mobile at a speed of 6.5 km / h on the occasion of a sales show and died at the scene of the accident . The subsequent court hearing relieved the driver James Edsall, who had only been practicing with the Franco-German power coach three weeks beforehand: the death was simply an accidental accident. No insurance company was responsible for such things at the time.

Bridget Driscoll (* 1851 not known, † August 17, 1896 in London) is the first person to be killed in a car accident.

A US court that had to assess the first fatal accident involving an electric vehicle made a similar decision: on September 13, 1899 Henry Hale Bliss run over by an e-taxi. Here, too, there was no insurance company that had to step in.

In this section we always present astonishing, impressive, informative and funny figures from the fields of IT, science, art, economics, politics and of course mathematics on Tuesdays.

  • All articles on “Pay, please!”

The same agreement was reached when the first motor vehicle accident occurred on February 25, 1899 with the death of the driver. A tire broke during an excursion and the factory drivers Edwin Sewell and Major James Richer died. the Retelling suggests drunk driving.

The year 1899 is also significant for Germany, because in that year the “Allgemeine Deutsche Versicherungs-Verein” in Stuttgart also offered its first liability and accident insurance, which was supplemented by a separate “collision insurance” after brief, bad experiences. The club was later bought up by a company that already had machine and bicycle insurance in its program. In 1918 it became “Kraft Versicherungs AG”, which is known today as Allianz.

Allianz acted cautiously on the market and only entered the motor vehicle insurance business when motor vehicles did more reliable and therefore more predictable became. Others were more innovative: Agrippina insurance developed the first liability insurance in today’s sense in 1901.

Such accidents were and are typical insurance cases, such as here in 1930 when the vehicle skidded due to a blown tire and crashed into an avenue tree. The contemporary source reports that of the five inmates, three were slightly injured and two were seriously injured.

(Image: CC BY-SA 3.0 , Federal Archives, picture 102-10248)

The insurance industry could not keep up with the rapidly increasing number of motor vehicles after the First World War. General liability for motor vehicles was not introduced and only applied to driving instructors and long-distance drivers who founded regional cooperative societies (SVG) specifically for this purpose.

Only in 1939, with the “Anschluss” of Austria to the German Reich, was liability introduced for all motor vehicles in Germany. It has been mandatory for all vehicles in Austria since 1929. Even earlier was only the US state of Massachusetts, which made it compulsory in 1927 – and at the same time ordered that motor vehicles must have taillights.

Today, the world’s first general accident insurance is an online-only insurance. Policies for autonomous driving have long been tinkered with in insurance groups. “Regardless of whether the driver or the technology reacts incorrectly and an accident happens, the existing liability system protects the innocent traffic victim,” said Allianz CEO Joachim Müller, explaining the problem. The topic has been a long-running topic in the Heise forums since the first Tesla dropouts, no different than in the early days of traffic.

An insurance specialist described how an accident happened in 1911. Franz Kafka observed what was happening in Paris and described it as Meeting of social classes.


To home page