Until the 1790s marine insurance in the United States was organized by brokers and underwritten by private individuals. Beginning in 1792, however, the private underwriters had to compete with newly formed marine insurance corporations. Each organizational form had advantages and disadvantages. This article uses archival data from a private underwriter and a corporation to study how the competition between these different organizational forms was affected by a powerful exogenous shock which substantially increased the risks to American merchant shipping in the late 1790s: the “Quasi-War” between the United States and France.
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