Hamburger Feuerkasse (Hamburg Fire Office) is the first officially established fire insurance company in the world, and the oldest existing insurance enterprise available to the public, having started in 1676.
The basic idea of fire protection was established in the guilds of Schleswig-Holstein, Germany. The roots are tied to the cooperative arrangements of the Teutons of the Middle Ages. The idea was brotherly help to protect one another, especially from fire losses.
Some of these guilds of Schleswig-Holstein developed into cooperative mutual fire protection groups - the basis of fire insurance.
These specialized "fire guilds" started in the beginning of the fifteenth century. The earliest known statutes were written up in Suederauerdorf in 1537. This then was followed by several "fire guilds" along the west coast of Schleswig-Holstein in the next few years following. The first municipal guild for fire insurance was "Itzehoe Lieb-Frauen Guild" founded in 1543.
Approximately 100 brewery heirs signed the first "Hamburg Fire Contract" on December 3, 1591. This obligated the members to have to pay a certain sum if one of the partners suffered a loss due to fire. They were called brewery heirs because they inherited their breweries. Brewing beer was a very important enterprise in Hamburg in the thirteenth, fourteenth, fifteenth and sixteenth centuries. This first contract was soon followed by several other fire contracts over the next few years with basically the same clauses.
The fire contracts of Hamburg turned out to be ineffective against the many fires that happened in Hamburg in the seventeenth century and they could not compensate everyone that had a loss due to fire. The London fire of 1666 also played a role in the ineffectiveness of the fire contracts of Hamburg. For these reasons on September 21, 1676, the Council of Hamburg appointed a committee to establish a "General Fire Office" which would cover the entire city and bring together all the small fire contracts of the city. Ultimately the committee worked out a general fire contract with 16 articles that would cover everything and all the people of the city. With the acceptance of this new general fire contract then the Hamburg "General Fire Office" was established on December 17, 1676. The Hamburger Feuerkasse ("Fire Office") was then officially founded. It is the oldest official insurance company in the world and has served as a model for other fire institutions in Germany.
According to Wikipedia