From underwriting the public liability risk for parading an elephant through Sydney to insuring some of the country's biggest film stars, Aviva Group companies were at the heart of the Australian insurance industry for more than 150 years.
On 1 October, the New South Wales Marine Assurance Company, later part of the Commercial Union Assurance Company, is established.
In May, the Northern Assurance Company, later part of Commercial Union, appoints Porter, Buchanan & Co agent for Melbourne. On 22 December, the company appoints Bayers & Learmouth agent for Sydney.
On 30 November, the Northern appoints an agent for Adelaide.
By this date the Northern agent for Adelaide is Elder, Stirling & Co.
On 24 March, David Moore resigns as agent for the Mercantile Insurance Company, later part of Commercial Union, and is replaced by Bielby Hawthorn of Power, MacDonald & Co.
On 26 May, Henry Moore replaces Lotze & Larnach as the Sydney agent for Mercantile Fire, later part of Commercial Union. The United Insurance Company of Australia, later part of General Accident Fire & Life Assurance Corporation, is established as the United Fire and Life Insurance Company of Sydney. In September, the North British & Mercantile Insurance Company, later part of Commercial Union, is operating in Australia.
Around the same time, the Sydney branch of the New Zealand Insurance Company, later part of General Accident Assurance Corporation Ltd, is established. By end of the 1860s, the company will have branches in Melbourne, Adelaide Brisbane and Perth.
On 20 April, Messrs McCulloch, Sellars & Co replace Messrs Miles & Co as the Melbourne agent for North British & Mercantile, who are considering establishing an Australian Board.
On 8 January, the earliest recorded Australian policy with the Northern is drawn up in the name of Mr H J C Ellerman of Melbourne. Policy number 10482 is for £1000, with a premium of £1, 12s and 8d per annum. On 13 September, Commercial Union appoints E & W Paul as fire agent for Sydney.
The Norwich Union Fire Insurance Society appoints Mr Robert Hamilton Sempill as agent for Sydney.
On 12 March, Sempill is also appointed Sydney agent for the Norwich Union Life Insurance Society. On 28 May, the company appoints Arthur A Beckett and Robert Ward medical referees.
Commercial Union records a net premium income for the year of £145 in Queensland, £231 in Adelaide, £718 in Melbourne and £1,381 in Sydney.
The United Fire and Life Insurance Company of Sydney, later part of General Accident, changes its name to the United Insurance Company of Australia.
On 8 November, Commercial Union appoints the Southern Insurance Company as agent for marine at Melbourne. Both Norwich Union Life and Norwich Union Fire appoint Mr T B Ware agent for Victoria in Melbourne.
The Australian Mutual Fire Insurance Society, a Sydney business later acquired by Commercial Union, is founded.
On 4 October, the South British Fire Office, later part of General Accident, appoints Michael Metcalfe & Co to represent them in Sydney. Based in offices at 9 Bridge Street, the company is only authorised to underwrite risks on hulls and cargoes of first class clippers and other sailing ships. Norwich Union Fire appoints Messrs Quinton & Donnelly agent for Brisbane.
On 4 August, South British appoints Donkin, Thomson & Co agent for Brisbane. Eight days later they appoint Mr F Pantlin agent fort Melbourne. Both are described as “competent and high class”. Norwich Union Fire appoints Mr J G Boothby agent for Adelaide. By this date London and Provincial Marine Insurance Company, later part of General Accident, is represented by Southern Insurance Company of Melbourne.
On 4 November, Commercial Union appoints Edward Chapman & Co fire agent for Sydney. Norwich Union Fire appoints Messrs Mackenzie, Goddard & Co (renamed Messrs W C Goddard & Co in 1877) agent in place of Robert Sempill.
On 16 April, John Charles Dunn is appointed fire agent for Commercial Union in Adelaide. On 10 December, the company appoints James Lord fire agent for Brisbane. Mr L A Jessop is another Adelaide appointment, becoming agent for the South British Fire Office while the Northern appoints John Sinclair manager for Melbourne.
On 28 March, John Stewart Turner is appointed fire agent for Commercial Union in Adelaide to replace John Charles Dunn. In August the company appoints the New Zealand Loan & Mercantile Agency Company agent for Melbourne. Later in the year, South British allows their Sydney agent to start accepting carefully selected fire risks.
On January 2, Commercial Union appoints an agency for marine in the province of Victoria under the Melbourne branch of the New Zealand Loan and Mercantile Agency Company, who are also appointed marine agent for Sydney. On May 15, North British & Mercantile sends Mr Da Paiva to Melbourne to set up an Australian branch. Later that month, Commercial Union appoints William Henry Jarrett fire agent for Melbourne. On December 7, George Russell is appointed Resident Secretary for Sydney by North British & Mercantile and receives a salary of £550 per annum.
On 9 January, John Martin is appointed manager for North British & Mercantile's new Australian branch in Melbourne. The branch officially opens on 10 March. The board minutes of the company for 16 April record the appointment of Messrs Strachan, Murray, Shannon & Co as agent for Geelong; Herbert Evans as agent at Adelaide; Mr Butterfield as a clerk at Sydney on a salary of £150 per annum and Mr Martin as a clerk at Melbourne on an annual salary of £60.
On 1 May, the Sydney office of North British & Mercantile opens while William Briggs Sells is appointed Commercial Union marine agent for Adelaide on 14 May. Norwich Union Fire appoints Mr G W Gray agent for Brisbane.
On 8 April, Commercial Union appoints John Crowther fire agent for Brisbane following the resignation of James Lord. On 21 October, the board of Commercial Union decides that Australia and Tasmania should be constituted a Branch District with offices at Melbourne, called the Australian Branch. W H Jarrett, formerly a local fire agent, is appointed resident manager and underwriter with an annual salary of £1,500. All existing agencies in Australia are now under Melbourne.
The Commercial Union Australia branch opens in November while, at the same time, North British & Mercantile secures the former offices of the Imperial Company at Lower Queen and Collins Street, Melbourne, paying £725 in rent per annum. The Norwich Union Fire Office appoints Mr E F Yencken agent for Victoria. In December, Commercial Union considers starting life business in Australia but is put off by the high local deposits required. The only British insurance company offering life cover in Australia at this time is Norwich Union.
On 27 January, Commercial Union takes offices at 78 Collins Street West, Melbourne, paying £550 in rent per annum. Mr D G Hutton is appointed chief assistant on a salary of £300 per annum. The branch is set up to carry out fire and marine business and employs Mr Roberts and Mr Speeding as junior clerks, each on £75 per annum, and Mr Chandler on £60.
On 30 June, the resident secretary for Commercial Union in Australia, W H Jarrett, writes to confirm he has secured the goodwill of the New South Wales Marine Co, as well as the goodwill and offices of the Sydney Fire Insurance Company On 10 August, Sydney Fire becomes one of the first companies to open a branch in Adelaide when it appoints Mr L H L Giles local secretary on an annual salary of £250.
First floor offices in Adelaide are taken on King William Street at £150 in rent per annum and Mr Frampton is engaged as assistant on £100 per annum. Later in the year, Commercial Union purchases offices in Melbourne at 80 Collins Street West for £12,000 and begins operating in Tasmania.
On 12 October, Sydney Fire is finally purchased by Commercial Union for £23,750. The new offices acquired with the company are at Pitt and Hunter Street in Sydney. On 7 December, John St Vincent Welch is appointed Sydney agent for fire and marine with an annual salary of £900.
On 28 April, the goodwill of New South Wales Marine is eventually purchased for £4,250. A local board of directors for New South Wales is established. On 15 September, Commercial Union establishes a branch at Brisbane, appointing Edward Sayce resident secretary with an annual salary of £500.
On 31 January, Commercial Union’s board considers purchasing the fire business and goodwill of the Queensland Fire & Fidelity Insurance Company of Brisbane at a suggested price of £15,000, including £12,500 for the company’s premises.
On 3 May, Norwich Union Fire appoints George Shenton agent for Perth and Western Australia. During the year, all the Norwich Union Fire agents are visited by Mr W R Congrave. He reports to the board that he has seen George Shenton (later appointed the first mayor of Perth) in Perth, Mr Gilbert Boothby in Adelaide, Mr Goddard in Sydney and Messrs Quinlan & Gray in Brisbane on his visit.
He describes the Melbourne agent, E F Yencken, as having “your interests very much at heart, but he carries detail to a ridiculous point and has been over lavish in his expenditure on sub agents’ stationery and advertising”.
South British opens a branch in Adelaide, which is run by James Kirker.
South British is now represented in Adelaide by Mr L A Jessop, in Brisbane by Mr W M Lloyd, in Melbourne by Mr C R Parsons, in Perth by Mr E K Courthope and in Sydney by Metcalfe & Co The company buys land on Bridge Street in Sydney for £8,750 on which to erect their own premises. On 7 August, F Pantlin, formerly of South British, is appointed chief clerk for Commercial Union at Melbourne on a salary of £500 per annum.
On 13 March, Scottish Union & National, later part of Norwich Union, appoints Hogg, Robinson & Co agent for Melbourne and Messrs Pearce, Borrodaile & Co agent for Sydney. On 18 November, Mr C Goddard replaces Quinlan, Gray & Co as the Norwich Union Fire Board agent for Brisbane. The company also purchases land on the corner of Hunter and Bligh Street, Sydney, on which to build new offices. The cost is £17,500.
South British acquires the Commercial Insurance Company of Australia. By the end of the year, the National Marine Insurance Association Ltd, later part of Commercial Union, has agencies in Adelaide, Brisbane, Melbourne and Sydney. Premium income for Commercial Union in Australia is £4,001 in Adelaide, £12,386 in Melbourne, £9,373 in Queensland and £19,060 in Sydney.
In July, the City of London Marine Insurance Corporation, later part of Commercial Union, is authorised to carry out marine business in Victoria.
Having been the first insurance company directly represented in Perth when it appointed Mr E K Calthorpe agent in the late 1870s, South British opens a branch in the city under Mr G H Johnston.
At this time, the Brisbane branch, which is overseen by Mr W M Lloyd, controls 23 fire agencies, as well as 19 more agencies – mostly situated northward along the coast from Cairns – that are charged with handling marine and fire claims. The Melbourne branch under Arthur J Masters controls 98 sub agencies. The company is now also represented in Albany by John McKail & Sons.
In January, Commercial Union opens a branch for Queensland in Brisbane.
South British purchases the Adelaide Fire & Marine Insurance Company whose manager, Mr E M Ashwin, takes over the running of the Adelaide branch from Mr Kirker the following year.
In November, Commercial Union agrees to purchase the Mercantile Marine and Fire Insurance Company of South Australia for £5,000. The purchase is completed in June 1890.
By the end of the 1880s the net loss for Commercial Union on fire insurance activities in Victoria totals £27,000. This is partly due to losses in the 1888 Broken Hill conflagration.
Norwich Union Fire appoints Messrs Gibbs, Bright & Co agent for Victoria. The addresses of the South British offices in this year are recorded as Bridge Street in Sydney; 11 Queen Street in Melbourne; Grenfell Street in Adelaide; Howick Street in Perth, where the manager is Mr L M Ollivier; George Street in Brisbane and Flinders Street in Townsville, which is run by Mr W A Rigby.
At this time, the company has fire and marine sub-agencies in Ballina, Newcastle, Noumea, Merimbula, Millicent, Port Pirie, Albany, Bunbury, Fremantle, Geraldton, Bundaberg, Gladstone, Ipswich, Mackay, Maryborough, Rockhampton, Tweed River, Toowoomba, Warwick, Bowen, Cooktown, Cairns, Herberton, Ingham, Maytown, Normanton Port Douglas and Thursday Island.
On 21 February, the Ocean Marine Insurance Company, later part of Commercial Union, appoints William Herbert Philips and William Henry Charnock as agents for Adelaide.
On 23 March, the directors of Scottish Union & National decide to set up a local board in Australia and to make Sydney their main seat of business.
On 21 October, Commercial Union appoints Francis Alfred Canning fire and marine agent at Perth. Business in Perth is booming at this time. James Kirker, the South British general manager, who had been promoted from manager at Adelaide, writes: “Our Perth branch is developing magnificently and our revenue there now closely approximates what we are doing in Adelaide, Melbourne and Sydney”.
Also this year, Norwich Union Fire appoints Messrs William and Little agent for Adelaide and many of the group companies face losses over the disastrous conflagration at Sydney.
On 17 March, Commercial Union establishes the West Australia Branch at Perth to carry out fire and marine business under the management of Mr G H Johnston, who had previously worked for South British.
On 26 May, the Scottish Union & National Insurance Company appoints Mr Chapman, previously of Gibb, Bright & Co agents for Norwich Union Fire, as the resident secretary of their joint Australian branch with the Caledonian. His salary is £1,000 per annum.
The Palatine Insurance Company, later part of Commercial Union, commences business in Australia. By the end of the year, according to its company history, South British is the leading insurer in South Australia.
In June, Commercial Union purchases the goodwill of the Western Australian Fire Insurance Company, which is in liquidation. Its premium income for the year is £5,454 in Adelaide, £31,108 in Melbourne, £14,265 in Queensland and £30,538 in Sydney.
Despite an increase in premium income for Commercial Union, James Kirker of South British writes: “Things in Australia appear to be in a bad way. Victoria, Queensland and New South Wales were never before, I fancy, in such financial straits… The great burden of depression all over the world fills me at times with alarm and anxiety.”
By this date W A Rigby has moved to manage the Brisbane branch now based at 200 Queen Street while the Melbourne office has moved to 27 Queen Street and the Perth office to Town Hall Chambers under Mr H C Pilcher.
The Townsville manager is George H Moore and a new sub-branch in Cooktown is being run by Mr R J Houston.
In the same year, Ernest C Shenton replaces his father as chief representative of Norwich Union Fire in Perth.
Norwich Union Fire appoints Mr F H Snow agent for Adelaide. Many group companies suffer considerable losses in the great Melbourne ‘block’ fire, including Commercial Union and South British, which pays out £10,000 to policyholders.
Scottish Metropolitan Assurance, later part of Commercial Union, purchases the accident and employers liability business of the Queensland Mutual Insurance Company of Brisbane. South British appoints Mr Bovell agent for Busselton. The Bovell family is still representing the company over 60 years later.
South British purchases a freehold property in Perth for £16,000.
On 26 June, on the year that the Commonwealth of Australia is formed, Mr W A Patterson is appointed fire and marine agent at Adelaide for Commercial Union and Mr A B Speeding, formerly a clerk for the company, becomes agent for Melbourne. John St Vincent Welch, formerly manager for New South Wales, succeeds Mr Jarrett as manager for Victoria.
Norwich Union Fire opens a branch in Perth and appoints Mr R A Paxton agent for Adelaide.
On 26 February, Commercial Union manager Mr G H Johnston takes on accident business in Perth. On 30 April, A B Speeding takes on the accident agency at Melbourne and Mr Patterson does the same at Adelaide. The New Zealand Insurance Co pays out on the Sydney fire, which had started on the premises of Mr Anthony Hordern.
By this date, Lion Fire, later part of General Accident, is represented in all Australian states. The company’s main agent in Melbourne is Mr Pantlin, formerly of Commercial Union, and his junior is Mr Scott, who will become Chairman of the Australian Board of Yorkshire Insurance in 1951. The Union Assurance Company., later part of Commercial Union, is carrying out business in Australia by this date.
On 17 March, Commercial Union appoints Mr T B Steele Brisbane agent for fire, marine and accident while, in April, the General Accident Fire and Life Assurance Corporation commences fire business in Australia, appointing Melbourne broker Mr W Medhurst Taylor as agent. The agency is based at 34 Queen Street in the heart of the insurance district and, according to a proud contemporary description, has three Otis elevators.
The Northern Assurance Company also opens new offices in Melbourne under Mr Taverner who had replaced John Sinclair the year before. The company’s new building is situated on Collins Street and designed by Oakden & Ballantyne. The Yorkshire Insurance Company, later part of General Accident, upgrades its Melbourne and Sydney agencies to branches while Commercial Union begins to undertake workmen’s compensation business in Australia.
General Accident appoints William Haughton Co agents for South Australia and acquires the Australian business of the Magdeburg Insurance Company The company also appoints Mr Medhurst-Taylor manager for the whole of Australia.
South British decides to open a branch at Sydney under George H Moore who has formerly represented them at Cooktown. His assistant is Charles Metcalfe, son of the original Sydney agent Michael Metcalfe.
On 26 August, Ocean Accident & Guarantee Corporation Ltd, later part of Commercial Union, appoints George Wills & Company agents for Adelaide.
By this time, there are 37 insurance companies operating throughout the continent. 22 of these are British, 11 are Australian and three are New Zealand based. Over half of the British companies and two-thirds of those based in New Zealand are now part of the Aviva group.
South British begins to undertake accident business in Australia as well as fire and marine.
In June, General Accident appoints Mr Cropley of Broken Hill agent. The company now has agencies in Brisbane, Perth, Sydney (in Bridge Street) and Adelaide. The net premium for the year for the Union, later part of Commercial Union, is £10,554. The Yorkshire introduces livestock and hailstorm insurance to the Australian market.
In May, General Accident decides to take on motor, employers’ liability, plate glass, burglary and personal accident insurance. The company opens an office in Brisbane under Mr Cummins, establishes an agency in Townsville and engages the service of the William A Windeyer firm of solicitors known as Widneyer Dibbs, this firm is still operating today.
The New Zealand Insurance Co opens branches in Townsville and Rockhampton while South British opens a sub-office to Sydney in Newcastle under Mr B B Rudd. The Yorkshire now has offices at 51 Grenfell Street, Adelaide; 278 Elizabeth Street, Brisbane; 30 Queen Street, Melbourne; St George’s Terrace, Perth and 22 Bond Street, Sydney.
South British purchases a freehold site in Queen Street, Melbourne for £15,000 and erects a four-storey building. The project costs just under £20,000. General Accident opens a branch in Sydney. The company’s total accident premium income for the year is £3,182, with £359 paid in claims. The Commercial Union offices in Perth are now situated in St George’s Terrace while the Perth offices of the Yorkshire have moved to 9 Barrack Street.
General Accident’s Queensland business is under the control of Brownhill, Kirk & Co, originally the company’s agents in Townsville. The company is preparing to open a full branch in Melbourne and has secured offices in the basement of the new South British building in the city.
General Accident is also considering acquiring the Australasian Plate Glass Company but decides against opening up life business in Australia, where Norwich Union is still the only British life insurer.
Norwich Union Fire opens a branch in Victoria.
The North British & Mercantile main offices for Australia are now at 381 Collins Street, Melbourne, under the management of George A Russell. The company’s New South Wales branch is situated at 64 Pitt Street, Sydney, under George S Arthur; the Queensland branch can be found at Queen and Eagle Street, Brisbane, under Mr W A Benson while the South Australia branch is at Gawker Place, Adelaide, under Mr D E Wilkie.
The Northern appoints a new manager for Queensland, Mr H S Doherty, who has previously represented the New Zealand Insurance Company in Brisbane.
General Accident appoints Mr W G Falconer general manager for Australia. The post is based in Sydney. In April, the company finally moves into new offices at 21 Queen Street and in July moves into new Sydney offices at 78 Pitt Street. This year sees the establishment of two Australian companies destined to become part of the Aviva group: The Insurance Office of Australia and the Australian Provincial Assurance Association, both later part of Commercial Union.
On 4 October, the British General Insurance Company, later part of Commercial Union, appoints Mr Rainsford as their Australian representative.
On 15 April, General Accident promotes Mr G R Anderson, who has been manager of their branch at Melbourne for the last year on a salary of £350, as manager for the whole of Australia.
Commercial Union appoints Mr Wansey underwriter and local secretary for Sydney and engages the services of the Dibbs, Parker and Parker firm of solicitors.
The Railway Passengers Assurance Company, later part of Commercial Union, is now operating in Australia.
General Accident begins to undertake livestock insurance in Australia.
In July, General Accident acquires the business of the Aachen & Munich Insurance Company in South Australia while Norwich Union Fire appoints Mr H W Bain manager for Australia. The post is based in Sydney. The address of the Railway Passengers Assurance Melbourne office at this time is 381 Collins Street.
In April, the Sydney offices of General Accident move to Moore Street. Norwich Union Fire also opens a branch in the city.
In April, the General Accident Sydney offices move again, this time to 7 and 9 Bond Street. The company begins to undertake marine insurance in Australia. Two of the company’s Australian staff, Lieutenant Main, the Brisbane manager, and Private Hogan of the Adelaide office, are reported killed in fighting in the First World War.
South British sells its Bridge Street premises in Sydney and purchases a site at the corner of Hunter and O’Connell Streets to build new offices.
General Accident’s staff magazine reports the death of Gunner Taylor, the former accountant for New South Wales branch, in fighting in the First World War. South British begins business in Wagga Wagga.
On 2 September, Commercial Union appoints Ellis, Smith & Co as fire and marine agent for South Australia. In November, General Accident closes its Brisbane branch.
Commercial Union acquires Australian Mutual Fire Insurance Society after an offer of £2 10s per share. The Australian branch of Railway Passengers Assurance is situated at 37 Queen Street, Melbourne, while General Accident opens a branch in Western Australia.
General Accident is well known at this time for its frugality and the board minutes for this year solemnly authorise the purchase of a bicycle for the Geelong Inspector. The price is £18 10s 10d. South British is experiencing disappointing returns in Perth, with working conditions not conducive to progress. According to the company history, “defective lighting made the rooms gloomy. The basement was let as a restaurant and, on arrival each morning, the staff was greeted with the pungent smell of cabbage”. Australian Capital Assurances Ltd, later acquired by South British, is established by Mr Mooney.
On 10 May, North British & Mercantile acquires the Insurance Office of Australia.
By April, General Accident has moved its Melbourne office to 31 Queen Street. In July, the company commences writing hailstorm insurance in Australia. In the staff magazine, much is made of events in the company’s two Perth offices when the Australia office has to deal with the arrival of a mountain of mail actually intended for the company’s head offices in Perth, Scotland.
The Australian Mutual Fire Insurance Society now has branches at 30 Queen Street, Melbourne, under Mr A V Le Page, and at 113 Eagle Street, Brisbane, under Mr T E Smith.
The Yorkshire opens its first purpose-built office, which is situated at 30 Queen Street, Melbourne.
Scottish Union & National opens an office in Sydney and Union Assurance Co acquires the fire, marine and accident business of the Australian Provincial Assurance Association of Sydney. The Yorkshire now has offices at 20-22 Bond Street, Sydney; Anster Chambers, 32-34 Weymouth Street, Adelaide and 30 Queen Street, Melbourne.
In May, General Accident purchases premises at 10-12 Queen Street, Melbourne, for £25,350, relocating in September. The English Insurance Company, a subsidiary of General Accident, is now operating in Australia.
Scottish Union & National opens a branch in Newcastle. This follows the opening of operations in Adelaide and Brisbane.
Commercial Union purchases the Australian States Insurance Company. The Yorkshire commences the building of new offices in Spring Street, Sydney.
The total premium for the Commercial Union group in Australia now exceeds £1,000,000. Commercial Union subsidiaries operating in Australia at this time include Ocean Accident, Union, Palatine, British General, Edinburgh (marine only) and Australian Mutual. The company appoints Mr A H Russell, who has run the Union in Australia since 1902, as manager for Australia. The post is based in Melbourne.
Ocean Accident still retains a separate head office in Sydney under resident secretary Mr F L Morley. The Sydney office of South British now has 83 staff members.
General Accident’s chief offices for Australia are situated at 10-12 Queen Street, Melbourne, under the management of George R Anderson. The Sydney branch is managed by Mr T S Douglas and can be found at 7-9 Bond Street while the Brisbane office at Empire Chambers, Queen and Wharf Streets is run by Mr M D Davies. In Adelaide and Perth the company is represented by William Haughton & Company, based at 40 Currie Street and St George’s House, St George’s Terrace respectively.
A company booklet written at this time warns its readers that many views of Australia are out of date. It says: “Australia, What does the name convey? Those are too many, even in these enlightened days, who think of an arid and inhospitable country, sparsely peopled by toil-worn emigrants, who, apart from occasional visits to capital cities of no particular distinction, lead lives of solitude and discomfort in constant fear of ravages of drought and rabbits! How far from the truth!”
George Anderson, General Accident manager for Australia, is dismissed for arranging two reinsurance treaties that progressively increase losses and for being "dilatory" in cancelling them.
The Yorkshire general manager, James Hamilton, is more positive. In his notes, following a visit to his Australian staff, he writes: “Quiet, friendly, personal, go ahead Scott liked by nearly everyone and very highly spoken of. Does not desire to shine keeps his head and his friends and in friendly way gets his own. This branch [Melbourne] well conducted and profitable and the staff and subs good men. Pearce the second in command a good second whilst the marine man – Warden – is said to be the best marine underwriter in Melbourne and I was struck with his ability and loyalty.”
In May, General Accident opens an Adelaide branch at 38 Pirie Street under Mr Kell while the company sells its Queensland portfolio to the Guildhall Insurance Company.
The Perth branch, which is now open under Mr Baily, who had previously worked for General Accident's Perth agents Haughton & Co at Chancery House, Howard Street, is run along strict lines. Staff must stand to attention and welcome the manager with a call of "Good morning".
The new general manager is Mr A S Doig and the Sydney and Melbourne branches are under Messrs Johnson - appointed in 1929 - and Locke respectively. The company also begins to transact baggage insurance in Australia while the Yorkshire builds new premises in Perth at St George's Terrace. The cost is £64,000.
In March, General Accident receives permission to transact coupon insurance in Australia. The company now has an Australian staff of 60, with over 1,500 agents throughout the country. In September, the company’s Brisbane office moves to 63-71 Eagle Street. In the ten years up to 1931, total profit for the Melbourne branch of South British is well over £100,000. By 1931, 33 people are employed by the company.
Ocean Accident abandons its Sydney head office and comes under the control of Commercial Union at Melbourne.
In March, General Accident purchases 105 Pitt Street, Sydney, for new offices. Norwich Union Fire opens a branch in Brisbane.
Norwich Union Fire opens a branch in Adelaide.
South British opens a branch in Newcastle.
In July, General Accident relocates its Australian head office from Melbourne to Sydney.
In March, General Accident’s Perth branch moves to St George’s House, St George’s Terrace. The Yorkshire’s livestock insurance profits for Adelaide are £95 3s 2d.
Harry Johnson, formerly of Sydney branch, succeeds A S Doig as manager of General Accident in Australia.
General Accident’s Brisbane Wool Street offices install ediphone equipment for £150.
General Accident is asked to write the public liability risk for parading an elephant through Sydney as part of a publicity campaign for tea.
The General Accident Brisbane office moves to the corner of Queen & George Streets. Mechanisation reaches the Sydney branch of South British, which, along with its adding machines, installs a bookkeeping machine with a specially trained female operative to work it.
In January, the General Accident Adelaide office moves to 26 Pirie Street.
General Accident appoints Mr R T Jolley manager for Western Australia.
In November, the General Accident Sydney office purchases a franking machine for £55 10s while Scottish Union & National opens a branch in Perth.
In May, the General Accident Adelaide office purchases a Mercedes accounting machine for £1,147. Mr Baily, formerly of Perth, is now branch manager for Adelaide, having replaced Mr Kell.
In February, the General Accident Perth office purchases a Mercedes machine for £1,492. Mr Silversides of the Yorkshire visits the company’s Australian branches in all five states as well as the sub branches in Newcastle, Rockhampton, Townsville and the resident inspectors at Toowoomba, Ipswich, Grafton, Tamworth, Parkes and Wagga Wagga.
On 18 December, General Accident purchases and occupies new offices in Adelaide at 117 King William Street, which have formerly been owned by Commercial Union.
General Accident insures the Davis Cup as well as Chips Rafferty and Jeanette Elphick, the stars of the Australian film, The Phantom Stockman. Gerald Patterson, who represented Australia in the Davis Cup in 1923, was a member of General Accident's Australian board in 1925.
The Melbourne branch of South British installs an addressograph machine. Mr R M Trotter is appointed New South Wales manager for the Yorkshire.
In November, Mr A D Gladwin of the Yorkshire Insurance Co visits the company’s Australian branches and investigates the possibility of opening for life business in Australia. In his report to the board he bemoans the difficulty of recruiting good staff, “female workers are a little easier to obtain but they have to be highly paid (at age 21 - £580 pa) rising to £680 – £700 after 20 years’ service”. General Accident gives the exterior of its Melbourne branch a facelift.
The Brisbane offices of the Yorkshire are situated at 127 Eagle Street in a building owned by Scottish Union & National and also occupied by the Northern. The company’s Adelaide branch is based at 32/34 Weymouth Street.
The site is close to North British & Mercantile, who are shortly due to move and whose lease the Yorkshire plans to take over. The general manager on a visit to Australia writes: “It was a great source of satisfaction, during a drive round Adelaide and to Port Adelaide, to be shewn [sic] so many fine buildings on which the Yorkshire carry the fire insurance. We are obviously ‘on our toes’ in this state and it is an area of great promise.”
He also visits the Melbourne office at Yorkshire House, 24-26 Queen Street, under Mr H N Crawley. Describing the office, he writes: “There is every evidence of a very well ordered operation. A harmonious spirit prevails and the departmental officers are alert and experienced.”
The same report also refers to the tragic loss of the retired manager for New South Wales, Mr A S Williams, who disappeared on the ill-fated Joyita en route to the Pacific Islands and, along with all passengers and crew, was never found. Two of the more bizarre suggestions for the fate of the passengers and crew were that they were kidnapped by a Soviet submarine and taken to the USSR or were slaughtered by the crew of a Japanese fishing fleet.
Norwich Union Life opens a branch in Melbourne while General Life Assurance Company, the life subsidiary of General Accident, begins business in Australia. The South British offices in Tamworth, Grafton, Wagga Wagga and Wollongong now enjoy branch status.
On 31 July, General Accident opens a new office in Brisbane at 39 Creek Street. Designed by T R Hall, Phillips & Wilson and built by E J Taylor & Son, a contemporary brochure describes the interior of the building of having “been colour schemed in light pastel shades and finishes to walls and floors selected to combine economy and long service with light and cheerful colouring.” The company also appoints a new manager for Australia, Charles Belton, and a manager for Western Australia, Mr R T Jolley.
The Yorkshire appoints Mr W F McClelland as manager for Queensland.
The Commercial Union Assurance Company of Australia is established and acquires all Commercial Union’s Australian business at 4pm on 30 June. The new company’s headquarters are situated at 409-413 Collins Street, Melbourne. This is where the Victoria branch of Commercial Union has been based since 1882. The chief executive of the new company is Mr C F W Oakley. Commercial Union is allocated 66 and two-thirds per cent of the shares, with the remainder offered locally. South British gives branch status to its office in Orange.
The North British & Mercantile Insurance Company of Australia Ltd is established as a subsidiary of North British & Mercantile in order to run its Australian business.
South British gives branch status to its office in Canberra. South British offices at Ballarot, Gealons and Bendigo in Victoria have also received branch status by this date. The head office for General Life in Australia is now situated at 104 Bathurst Street, Sydney.
The Scottish Insurance Corporation, which has just been acquired by the Yorkshire, now has a predominantly life based business, with six branches in Australia. Yorkshire Finance Ltd (of Australia) is established as a subsidiary of the Yorkshire. The stated objectives of the new company are to raise money from the public for investment in loans made to connections of the Yorkshire and to protect and develop the company’s insurance business. South British opens a new branch at Adelaide.
General Accident appoints Clifford Fisher Managing Director for Australia and Mr D G Scarfe manager for South Australia.
Commercial Union appoints Mr Grey Chief Executive of their Australian subsidiary.
South British opens a new branch in Sydney and acquires Australian Capital Assurance Ltd with a view to entering the life market. This company has a head office in Sydney, along with branches in Melbourne, Adelaide, Brisbane and Perth. It boasts over 100 members of staff, headed by managing director Mr W J Dowd. The new subsidiary’s name is changed to the South British United Life Assurance Company.
On 19 December, Commercial Union, which has just acquired the Northern Assurance Company, sells its subsidiary Northern Life Assurance Company of Australia Ltd to NV AMEV.
General Accident acquires the Yorkshire, gaining an impressive livestock insurance business in Australia, as well as two local life companies. One of these, the Yorkshire Life Assurance Company of Australia Ltd, is based in Yorkshire House, Melbourne, with branches in Sydney, Brisbane and Perth under general manager Mr G R Kensit.
The head offices of the Yorkshire, prior to the merger with General Accident, were at Spring Street, Sydney. General Accident replaces its managing director for Australia, Mr Fisher, with Mr R M Trotter.
By this date, the Commercial Union Assurance Company of Australia Ltd owns the following subsidiaries:
- Australian Mutual Fire Insurance society;
- British General Insurance Company of Australia Ltd;
- Commercial Union Property Holdings Proprietary Ltd;
- CU Group Proprietary Ltd;
- Employers Liability Assurance Corporation of Australia Ltd;
- Indemnity Marine Assurance Company of Australia Ltd;
- The Insurance Office of Australia Ltd;
- London & Scottish Assurance Corporation of Australia Ltd;
- North British & Mercantile Insurance Company of Australia Ltd;
- Northern Assurance Company of Australia Ltd;
- Ocean Accident and Guarantee Corporation of Australia Ltd;
- Palatine Insurance Company of Australia Ltd;
- Union Insurance company of Australia Ltd;
- Australian Union Assurance.
South British purchases a 22ft model of Captain Cook’s ship, Endeavour, to tour New Zealand and Australia and promote the company. The Commercial Union Assurance Company of Australia appoints Mr MacFadyen as Managing Director.
General Accident appoints Jim Adam manager for Australia.
On 1 October, Tony Brend is appointed Chief Executive of Commercial Union Assurance Company of Australia.
General Accident acquires a new office in Melbourne on the corner of Collins and Queen Street at 394 Collins Street. The building is officially opened on 30 November 1981.
Norwich Union Fire purchases the Waltons Insurance Company.
On 1 January, Associated Marine Insurers Australia is established to take over the combined Australian Marine operations of Commercial Union and Guardian Royal Exchange.
General Accident domesticates its Australian business, forming General Accident Insurance Company Australia and appointing Rex Parker as Managing Director. Norwich Union Financial Holdings Ltd is incorporated.
The Norwich Union Life branch is replaced by a subsidiary company, Norwich Union Life Australia Ltd, with a head office in Melbourne and branches in Adelaide, Brisbane, Melbourne, Perth and Sydney.
General Accident sells NZI Life in Australia to Zurich.
Norwich Union Financial Holdings Ltd changes its name to Norwich Union Financial Services Ltd.
In August, Portfolio Partners Ltd, later part of Norwich Union, is established.
The Commercial Union Assurance Company of Australia is now one of the top five private general insurers in Australia, with an extensive range of high-quality domestic commercial agricultural and industrial policies protecting the assets of more than 1.6 million policyholders. Ian Balfe is Managing Director, assisted by Terry Wakefield in Victoria, Alan Pack in Western Australia and Rob Golding in Queensland. In March, the company withdraws from the compulsory third-party market in Queensland and New South Wales.
Norwich Union acquires Portfolio Partners Ltd. Commercial Union merges with General Accident to form CGU.
Norwich Union Financial Services Ltd changes its name to Norwich Union Australia Ltd.
On 18 October, the sale of CGU Insurance Australia Ltd to Insurance Australia Group Ltd is announced.
On 1 October, Norwich Union Australia Ltd changes its name to Aviva Australia Ltd.
Aviva sells its Australian life insurance and wealth management business to National Australia Bank.