Insurance is a vital and dynamic element in the modern economy. Although commercial forms of insurance have been present for several hundred years in Europe, this financial service first grew to maturity on a global scale during the nineteenth century, and by the First World War a wave of new insurance products had swept across the world. During the twentieth century, the areas of risk that could be insured and reinsured multiplied still further. By pooling a huge variety of complex risks, insurance enabled the production and consumption of goods that would otherwise not be produced or consumed - in this way insurance can be regarded as having achieved net welfare gains for both developing and more advanced economies. Despite their economic and social importance, however, there are relatively few book-length studies of national insurance industries. This collection of nine essays by a group of international experts redresses this balance; providing an extensive geographical and thematic spread, linked via an extensive introduction. Also present is a consolidated, multilingual bibliography, allowing further research to be undertaken around the world.