Vanderbilt Law Review


Charles T. Cady

First Page



Burial insurance, used in the sense of a risk-shifting device to aid the less fortunate, has existed in the form of friendly societies from time immemorial. Indeed, it is probable that this noncommercial type was the first form of insurance. There is some evidence that such societies existed in Egypt, 2500 B.C. There exists more concrete evidence that they thrived in ancient China, India, Greece and Rome. The Grecian societies, although largely religious and ritualistic, had as their main function the guarantee of a decent burial for their members. The existence around A.D. 117-138 of Roman societies, called collegia, is established beyond doubt by the finding of a marble bearing an inscription setting forth the by-laws., Although there is no documentary proof, it is probable that the societies survived the invasions and continued to exist in their ancient form until they were revived by the medieval guilds with many attributes of our modern mutual benefit organizations.