As the insurance community prepares to celebrate 330 years of Lloyd’s in 2018, the Lime Street Guide takes a trip down memory lane to explore the market’s most surprising contemporary.
The journey takes us all the way across the Atlantic to a location I visited on a recent trip to upstate New York.
In 1686, when Edward Lloyd founded a coffee house in Tower Street, Rhinebeck was first registered as a village by three native Americans and three Dutch residents. The Dutch had bought 2,200 acres of land from the local Iroquois.
Two years later, in 1688, Lloyd’s earned its first mention in the London Gazette. In the same year, Rhinebeck was officially acknowledged by King James II of England.
As the attentive reader will spot from the above pictures, by some strange coincidence Rhinebeck also harks back to the same two dates.
However, the fortunes of Lloyd’s and Rhinebeck then took different journeys. Lloyd’s became the centre of maritime information and was recognised as the place to obtain marine insurance. Lloyd’s played a key role in the Napoleonic wars and became instrumental in the development of the British Empire. It has kept close ties with the Royal Navy ever since.
Over the years, Rhinebeck has moved from being a centre for farming activity to being well known for its wooden furniture and recognised as the leading American source for the manufacture of carriages, coaches and sleighs.
Another connection to Lloyd’s is in the person of one of Rhinebeck’s famous sons. John Jacob “Jack” Astor IV (pictured) who was born in Rhinebeck on July 13, 1864. He was a prominent member of the wealthy Astor family, and the richest man on board of the Titanic. When he died after the ship sank in the early hours of April 15 1912, along with more than 1,500 fellow passengers, he was said to be worth the equivalent of $2.16billion in today’s money.
The Titanic was the largest ever marine risk, and became the largest marine loss when she collided with an iceberg during her maiden voyage. The policy had been placed by Willis Faber & Co in the Lloyd’s market on January 9 1912, covering the Titanic and her sister ship, the Olympic, on behalf of the White Star Line.
It was insured for £1million, which amounted to 20% of the total £5m capacity of the market at that time.
Because the Titanic was considered unsinkable and, therefore, such a prestigious risk, it was subscribed to by all marine underwriters at Lloyd’s and most London marine insurance companies. The total claims arising from the tragedy amounted to 20 per cent of the premium income of Lloyd’s in 1912 – and were paid in full within 30 days!!!
Rhinebeck built an aerodrome in 1966, with regular aeromodelling events and plane shows. Meanwhile, Lloyd’s had already placed the first satellite insurance the year before, covering space risks, human injuries in orbit and related financial losses.
Less than 20 years later, Lloyd’s launched a successful salvage mission to reclaim two rogue satellites, sending a shuttle and five astronauts into orbit in order to retrieve them.
Over the years, Rhinebeck has also become built up and is now part of the New York metropolitan area. At the last census of 2015 only 2,609 people lived in Rhinebeck – a fraction of the number of people who go into Lloyd’s on a daily basis.
The market gathers thousands of professionals together, not necessarily under one roof, but under one Lloyd’s.
The growth of Lloyd’s over the centuries has been impressive, and has been made possible by the strong relationships developed through face-to-face negotiations in “The Room”.
We now offer insurance in more than 200 countries around the world, covering more than 60 lines of insurance and reinsurance.
The eight major classes of business are:
– Accident & Health
Tailor-made policies are issued for 46% of Hang Seng companies, 68% of FTSE 250 companies, 97% of Dow Jones companies and 100% of the Fortune 500 construction and farm machinery companies and the computer software industries.
Our underwriters are among the very best in the world, anticipating and responding to new and emerging risks and using state-of-the-art modelling to create the specialist products and policies the world needs.
Lloyd’s and Rhinebeck both have plenty to celebrate as they mark 330 years in existence in 2018. While Rhinebeck has surprised with its development as one of America’s gourmet towns, Lloyd’s remains the epicentre of insurance, pioneering new forms of protection for a rapidly changing world.
Featured photo: Wikimedia Commons