At a little past five o’clock on the morning of April 18, 1906, San Franciscans were shaken out of bed by a massive earthquake measuring between 7.9 and 8.3 on the Richter scale. The ground shook for nearly a minute, and would do so again as many as 27 times that day–destroying much of the city in the resulting flames, as well as many of the ways the insurance business handled fire and catastrophic risks.

The total loss caused by the quake is in dispute, perhaps because industrywide records were not as carefully kept as they are today.

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