For most of us, insurance is a necessary facet of everyday life. And, for us here at Hinks Insurance, it is quite literally our life. In fact, we will be celebrating our 90th anniversary on 5th August, thanks to the continued custom and support of our clients.
As we’re celebrating nine decades of Hinks, we thought we would take you through a brief history of the insurance sector. Did you know the UK insurance market is the largest in Europe and the third largest in the world? According to the Association of British Insurers (ABI) it employs around 314,000 people. But how did it become so important? Insurance hasn’t always been the regulated market it is today…
Circa 1750 BC
In what is now Iraq, the Code of Hammurabi set out ancient Babylonian laws, including one on the topic of “bottomry” – a maritime insurance loan. A merchant would borrow money to fund his ship and could pay an extra sum to guarantee that the loan did not have to be repaid if the vessel sank.
Around the same time, Chinese merchants had started mixing their goods between vessels, so if one went under on its treacherous river journey it would not wipe out a single merchant’s stock.
Greeks and Romans
Rather than moving goods around, it was the Romans who first structured insurance as a financial contract a few thousand years later. The ancient Greeks and Romans both introduced the origins of health and life insurance with the creation of guilds or “benevolent societies” to care for the families of deceased members.
Insurance contracts as a separate entity (meaning they were not bundled in with loans or other contracts) were invented in Genoa in the 14th Century. The oldest known insurance contract dates from here in 1347.
Early 16th Century
In the early 16th Century, farmers in the Alps organised mutual aid societies, agreeing to look after each other if livestock or family members fell ill. This system viewed risk as something to be shared, as opposed to something to be traded on.
In 1687, Edward Lloyd opened a coffee house on Tower Street, near the London docks. The shop became known as a hotspot for gossip; topics included the plague, the Great Fire of London and the ships sailing in and out of the dockyard, and what they carried. Gamblers placed bets on whether they would arrive safely or not.
Edward Lloyd began to assemble a network of reporters and informers, creating a newsletter full of information about port comings and goings, known as “Lloyd’s List”.
If someone wished to insure a ship, insurers in the coffee shop would draw up a contract and sign his name underneath – hence the term “underwriter”.
Destroying more than 13,000 houses, the Great Fire of London in 1666 catapulted property insurance into the limelight as a matter of urgency. When rebuilding London after the disaster, Sir Christopher Wren included a site for “the Insurance Office”.
In the late 19th Century, accident insurance was formed. Operating much like life insurance today, the Railway Passengers Assurance Company was formed in 1848 in England to insure against the rising number of fatalities on the railway system.
Eighty years after Edward Lloyd established his coffee house, a group of underwriters who drank there formed the Society of Lloyd’s. Today, Lloyd’s of London is one of the most famous names in insurance.
Over the August Bank Holiday of 1930, George Hinks decided to go into business as an insurance broker. On Tuesday 5th August, he set up an office at his home in Hull, opened his order book, and Hinks Insurance was born. We’ve been protecting our customers’ future ever since that day.
We pride ourselves on our personal approach, honed over 90 years of local expertise. Insurance broking is in our blood, with George’s grandson, Jonathan, at the helm today.
To discover how we can help you with your insurance needs, please get in touch with the team.