“An ounce of prevention is worth of pound of cure,” Benjamin Franklin advised the residents of Philadelphia. Heeding his warning, they created the Union Fire Company and the Philadelphia Contributionship for the Insurance of House from Loss by Fire—arguably the embryonic nation’s first insurance company. At the time, rising population density, along with closely constructed and highly incendiary structures, put urban centers at peril with the mere lighting of a candle. At the close of the nineteenth century, Puerto Rican society faced similar threats, and this is the starting point of Luis Ferrao’s recent work on the history of insurance in Puerto Rico.

Historia de los seguros en Puerto Rico is chronologically and thematically organized into five chapters. The first chapter discusses the industry’s nineteenth-century roots abroad, its recomposition following World War I, the continuing risk of fire, and the emergence of government regulation. Chapter 2 treats the 1922–45 period,...

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