Of the various kinds of social insurance the most important in many respects is accident insurance. In 1884 Germany provided that employers must form mutual accident insurance associations, which should collect dues from employers and pay benefits to victims of accidents or, in case of death, to the family of the deceased. The employers themselves manage the affairs of their respective associations, though the German government through its Imperial Insurance Office exercises a certain amount of oversight and acts as a mediator in all cases where an injured employee is dissatisfied with the award made by one of the associations. Ten years later Norway instituted a government-controlled system of accident insurance. The employers of that country pay into a state insurance fund premiums which are based on the size of wages and the degree of risk to which each employee is exposed. The state itself administers the funds, paying the victims of accidents according to a carefully prepared scale. In 1897 an English law provided that employers should be liable for accidents to their employees, but it did not provide that employers should organize for mutual protection; that is, each employer could insure his men against accident in some insurance society, or, if he preferred, carry his own risk. One of these three methods has been adopted in practically every European country.

The administration of accident insurance is fairly easy. In Germany, the benefits paid during the first thirteen weeks following an accident come from a sick fund, which the employees themselves must largely provide. Obviously, the object of this scheme is to restrict the use of the funds of the employers' associations to those who suffer from serious accidents. Besides, since the first thirteen payments come largely out of the pockets of the employees, there will be less temptation for an employee to pretend to be injured in order to get a few weeks' rest.