Aviva and livestock insurance - it's not all chain-smoking crocodiles and famous elephants
20 Apr 2015
The Aviva group’s history in livestock insurance can be traced right back almost to the start of this form of insurance in the UK. The Norfolk Farmers’ Cattle Insurance Society, formed in 1849, was the fourth specialist livestock insurer to be established.
Other livestock specialists absorbed into the group over the years include National Livestock (established 1853) London and County Hail and Cattle (established 1854), Livestock Insurance Company of Great Britain (established 1874), Imperial Livestock and General (established 1878)...
... County Livestock Insurance Association (established 1896), and Scottish Livestock (established 1899).
Through acquisition of these specialist insurers the larger composite offices began offering specific livestock insurance adding this class of business to the more traditional fire and life cover. Norwich Union Fire had, in fact, produced special rates for fire insurance for farming stock as early as 1859 as a result of “severe losses on agricultural risks”. Under the new rules not more than £40 was to be paid on the loss of any one animal unless it had been specifically insured for a larger sum.
Problems of fire insurance on agricultural risks are obvious from reading the records of the Norwich Union Worcester fire brigade which was regularly called out to hay rick fires including one in 1895 the cause of which was put down as “tramp woman smoking under rick”.
Several Aviva companies were at the forefront of the move of livestock insurance into the hands of larger and more established offices. Yorkshire Insurance began to offer livestock cover in the UK in 1904...
...and before long was covering livestock risks in Australia, Iraq, India, New Zealand,...
...Belgium, Argentina, South Africa, Jamaica, Canada,...
...The Netherlands, Uruguay, Chile and France.
In 1906 the company's gross premium income from overseas livestock business was £12, 121 2s 9d. In 1908 Yorkshire Insurance acquired Livestock and General of New Zealand which had been established in 1883 and over the years the Aviva group has absorbed other foreign insurers offering livestock insurance such as Provinces Reunis which offered livestock insurance in Belgium from 1890 and French company L’Abeille whose staff magazine included a useful article on livestock insurance in 1954.
Northern Assurance was another company offering livestock insurance overseas, indeed it commenced livestock business in Australia in 1912, a year before it began to offer this type of insurance at home.
Yet another composite company which claimed to have pioneered livestock insurance was General Accident whose entrance into the market began with an agreement with the newly formed Scottish Livestock insurance company in 1899.
Scottish Livestock produced a wonderful series of very specific proposals for Castration risks (for horses),...
...insurance of stallions, foaling insurance and, branching out from farming livestock, Tradesmen’s Horse Insurance.
When the company was absorbed by General Accident in 1909 the strong focus on equine cover continued and the corporation offered specific rates for the insurance of Army Officers’ chargers with a premium of £3.3s in 1925 buying cover for a charger in the Household Cavalry up to a value of £150.
One of the more interesting and, as far as the sources show, unique policies the company offered was Horse Endowment which was available to horse owners from 1910 – 1936. These policies offered customers the chance to receive a sum to replace their horses either on death or after a particular number of years. Put simply they were a way of guaranteeing that the policyholder would be able to replace the horse either on death or when it had reached the end of its working life, the policies could even be transferred to a new owner the animal if it was sold.
With such strong links to horse insurance it is little wonder that the company chose a horse for its 1930 calendar ...
...or that it even insured the horses of royalty. Among our files of royal insurance I found the following policy taken out on a riding horse by His Majesty King George VI in 1947.
As well as famous owners the company covered a number of famous horses including Grand National winner Nicolaus Silver (1961) and Derby winners Troy (1979) and Tennoso (1983). Perhaps most famously of all the company paid out £144,000 on the presumed death of kidnapped Derby winner Shergar in 1983.
Another "famous" horse covered by an Aviva company was Downlands Cancara, better known as the horse from the Lloyds Bank advertisements of the early 1990s. According to the Commercial Union staff magazine the horse was covered by an Assured Horse Policy taken out through that company's Ipswich branch.
Aviva companies were at the forefront of the development of livestock insurance throughout the 20th century and the first meeting of the Tariff Association for Livestock in 1912 was held in the offices of Commercial Union which had just acquired Livestock and General to add to other constituents such as Accident Insurance Company which had also branched out into livestock cover.
Yorkshire Insurance staff wrote important text books on livestock insurance and the company was the first to offer consequential loss insurance for farmers after the Foot and Mouth crisis of 1923.
At a talk to the local insurance institute in 1924 General Accident’s aptly named livestock manager, Mr Bull, said that this class of insurance “more than any business is best got through canvassing and face to face contact.”
It was this thinking which led the companies to take stands at agricultural shows such as this Northern Assurance stand at Inverness...
...or this General Accident stand also at Inverness, in 1932.
In the 1950s and 1960s General Accident had a distinctive caravan...
...which went round the county shows offering a base where farmers and other prospective policyholders could have a chat with staff over a cup of tea and a look at the latest policy material.
Advertising was also targeted at farmers and horse owners such as this series of trade press advertisements from Norwich Union...
...and these posters from Yorkshire Insurance.
Although this has primarily been a blog on the insurance of farm livestock I can’t waste the opportunity to mention other more exotic animals covered by our group companies over the years. Aviva companies have insured camels, 20 tons of live snails, monkeys (in natty striped pullovers), chain-smoking crocodiles, lions and this elephant parading the streets of Sydney to advertise tea in the 1950s.
Sticking with elephants our most famous exotic animal insured was Jumbo the elephant owned by PT Barnum. Norwich Union, which covered Jumbo under a reinsurance policy, also insured Barnum's circus “The Greatest Show on Earth” in its winter quarters in Connecticut in 1887 with specified animals including axis deer, gnu, blesbok, emu, sacred bull and a tapir.