The communis opinio among specialists of insurance law holds that the origins of the insurance contract are found in Italy during the later Middle Ages. From this unquestionable fact, these experts draw the conclusion that the Romans did not know insurance on a profit basis or premium insurance. The Anglo-American version gives prominence to the merchants in Lombard street, the great fire of London in 1666 and mariners and merchants passing the time in the coffeehouse of Edward Lloyd. Thus, both legal families adhere to the belief that the insurance business and, more particularly, fire insurance and marine insurance had been beyond the imagination and/or expertise of Roman entrepreneurs and lawyers. This view is difficult to accept. In consequence, this article analyses the essential elements of private insurance for profit and argues that insurance can be achieved by means of other contracts. As a result the hypothesis is proposed that the stipulatio, the allpurpose contract of Roman law, was well suited to effect insurance transactions.