Insurance market records
Records of some financial organisations held at London Metropolitan Archives
London Metropolitan Archives holds the largest single collection of business archives held by a local authority in England and Wales representing businesses mainly based in the 'Square Mile' of the City of London as well as in the wider Greater London region. LMA’s holdings are especially strong in merchant banking and insurance, particularly in the period before the Big Bang, and in this accruing series, compiled by Claire Titley, we take a closer look at the records of business organisations which represented the interests of City professionals and firms or regulated them, such as the Institute of Chartered Accountants (ICAEW), the British Bankers Association (BBA), the Association of British Insurers (ABI), the London Stock Exchange (LSE) and the London Chamber of Commerce (the other LCC).
These records are relatively underused, and can be a valuable source of information on a wide variety of topics including the development of financial products and services, resourcing (finance/staffing/investment), the effects of technological changes (development of the office, new processes, new markets), employment (demographics, culture, commuting), the development of finance-related professions and the relationship between them, investment at home and abroad, the development of global markets and of financial services in other territories, the study of commodities, the relationship between the City of London with government, political parties and public opinion, and the relationship between organisations (including the role of the Bank of England), and finally, but not exhaustively, the changes to the physical nature of the Square Mile itself, its margins and the growth of areas such as Canary Wharf.
At LMA you can find books on the City around shelf mark 33.0 in the LMA Library. David Kynaston’s 'City of London – The History' is particularly helpful; it is rich on colourful examples and his interest in social history makes it a fascinating read. (It is an abridged version of his 4 volume history, which LMA does not have). More analytical is Ranald Michie’s 'The City of London – Continuity and Change 1850-1990'. There is a useful little series of books with titles such as 'What goes on in the City?' by Nicholas Ritchie (33.0 RIT). These were published every so often with updated definitions and are useful for basic descriptions (for example, a 1970s one will give you a very clear picture of the City at that period). LMA is better stocked with histories of individual banks, around the same shelf mark.
Of course, Guildhall Library has a rich collection of printed sources related to business history, and researchers intending to do any proper background reading should start there.
We continue by looking at records of organisations to do with the insurance market.
The insurance market
Association of British Insurers and predecessor bodies
The Association of British Insurers (ABI) is the trade body for insurance companies in the UK. It was formed in 1985 on the merger of the British Insurance Association, the Life Offices' Association, the Fire Offices Committee and the Accident Offices Association. The Association has around 400 companies in membership. The work of the ABI includes policy formulation, research and statistics, and public relations representing the insurance industry. It also organises conferences and seminars and publishes reports.
This is a large collection that covers specialist bodies from different parts of the insurance industry – such as the London Wharf and Warehouse Committee, the Printers and Theatres Rating Committee, the Aircraft Insurance Committee etc. These were bodies that were established to collectively assess risk in particular trades and locations.
What could these records be used for?
Records of fires appear in these collections, as does material relating to claims. There are records relating to the London Fire Engine Establishment, the predecessor body to the London Fire Brigade, including records of call outs (CLC/B/017/MS15729).
The records of the Wharf and Warehouse Committee include plans of London’s wharfs.
Useful for researching trades, the insurance market, risk, how the insurance market worked collectively as well as ideas regarding fires/fire prevention/firefighting.
Find out more on the LMA collections catalogue under reference CLC/B/017.
Lloyds of London
In the late seventeenth century, Edward Lloyd opened a coffee house in Tower Street, and later Lombard Street, where merchants and bankers were accustomed to meet to write insurance on ships and cargoes. In 1769, a group of such underwriters, who wished to distance themselves from a reputation for speculation, set up a New Lloyd's coffee house, at 5 Pope's Head Alley. Lloyd's first took on a collective identity when, two years later, the underwriters paid a subscription and elected a Committee, with the intention of establishing themselves in more suitable quarters and regulating the conduct of their business.
Lloyd's was governed by the Committee according to a constitution defined by a trust deed of 1811 and redefined by an Act of Parliament of 1871, which incorporated Lloyd's, and later Acts of 1888, 1911, 1925 and 1951. The management structure was revised under the terms of the Lloyd's Act of 1982 which established the Council of Lloyd's as the new governing body with powers to regulate the business of insurance at Lloyd's. The Committee of Lloyd's continued in existence with reduced powers.
Lloyd's remains a market for marine insurance, although, in the twentieth century, its business has expanded into other areas of insurance.
Insurance policies bought and sold at Lloyd’s of London will not be found in the records of Lloyd’s itself. Any records of what was bought and sold will be with the records of the firm or syndicate that traded it. The records here relate to the management of the market.
For specific marine records produced by Lloyd’s for the benefit of the market (the Loss and Casualty books and the Captains Registers) see the Lloyd’s of London Captains Registers and related sources research guide.
Note: Lloyd’s Register is a separate entity (see also Lloyds register digitisation project)
What can these records be used for?
Apart from the specific records relating to vessels etc, the records of Lloyd’s only really comprise the minutes of the council and the committee of Lloyd’s. These would be of interest to someone interested in the development of the market and the way the market was regulated.
Find out more on the LMA collections catalogue under reference CLC/B/148