18 Feb 2009
Posted by: Anna Stone
Subjects: Interesting stories
Insurance for grocers against accidental ptomaine poisoning of their customers and for farmers for injuries to their livestock caused during castration - is there anything we haven't covered?
I've just catalogued a selection of proposal documents from three of our constituent companies and was reminded what an amazing selection of different insurance cover we have offered over the years. Proposals were small leaflets produced by companies and handed to prospective customers by agents and branch staff.
They gave information on the type of policy offered and included a form which had to be filled in with details relevant to the policy to be taken out. The proposal document was then sent in to the branch or to head office who decided, on the answers given, whether or not to accept the risk and issue a policy.
What I find so interesting is the wide range of incredibly specific insurances for which proposals were produced, for everything from Camp Equipment to Cups, Shields Trophies Medals and Regalia and from stamp collections, under Philately proposals, to Personal Luggage Insurance (Juvenile Travel Parties) .
It is not particularly surprising to find insurance which covered musical instruments against damage, loss or theft but I marvel at the production of proposals for the insurance of specific instruments like Violins, Violas and Violoncellos as offered by Fine Art and General Insurance Company in 1959. Similarly, Red Cross Indemnity Association produced not only proposals for motor insurance but specific proposals for different makes so a Daimler, Austin or De Dion owner would be provided with a proposal for their particular make of car.
Some of the more unusual proposal titles reflect developments in technology as companies produced new types of insurance to fulfil the changing needs of their customers, particularly in the 1950s and 1960s. In 1956 Ocean Accident and Guarantee Corporation had a proposal for the Insurance of Radio-Isotopes for Science and Industry .
The proposal explained that the company " is prepared to insure radio-active Isotopes and their containers used for medical, scientific and industrial purposes against loss of damage by All Risks other than war, kindred risks, wear and tear, depreciation and inherent vice ". In 1948 Edinburgh Assurance Company was offering proposals for the Insurance of X-ray Apparatus , while other group companies offered cover for Sprinkler Leakage , Neon sign Insurance , Artificial Sunlight Apparatus , Refrigeration Plant , Frozen Foods (Retailers' Premises ) and insurance for Petrol Pumps, Oil Pumps, Tanks and Cabinets .
For many of these the extended benefits make interesting reading, for example for the additional premium of 5 shillings insurance of Oil Pumps, Tanks and Cabinets could be extended to cover loss of oil by " fire or theft or by impact by any horse-drawn or mechanically propelled vehicle " while Refrigeration Plant insurance could be extended to cover " breakdown of separate Electric Motor and Fan, Pump, Agitator or ice cream mixer. "
I particularly enjoy looking at the proposals produced following the advent of television like that offered by Palatine Insurance Company in 1953 which covered Television Apparatus, Wireless Receivers and Radio Gramophones for loss or damage by fire, explosion, theft or accident.
The insured was also covered for third party liability if, for example, his newly installed aerial fell and hurt someone or damaged their property. For an additional premium it was possible to insure that vital part of the television set, the cathode ray tube itself, against loss or damage by any accident "except wear and tear, use contrary to the maker's directions or resulting from war and kindred risks".
The proposals also reflect changes in society from the Domestic Servants and Farm Servants policies of the 1910 and 1920s to the Personal Accident and Sickness Insurance for the Business Woman produced by The Northern Assurance Company in 1962 and issued only to those rare women who were "actively engaged full time in a profession or business". Other proposals such as Accidents to members of Boy Scout, Boys' Brigade, or Girl Guide Associations or Excursionists, Amateur Cricket Club and Amateur Football Club reflect increases both in leisure time and in the breadth of leisure activities.
The Sportsman's proposal produced by Ocean Accident and Guarantee in 1962 covered amateur sports men and women for damage to property belonging to other people or injury to other people, personal accidents, fire and theft of sports equipment or accidental breakage of the equipment while taking part in sports such as badminton, basket ball, bowls, croquet, fencing, fives, golf, netball, swimming, tennis, archery, shooting (rifle range only), angling, athletics (on foot), boxing, cricket, hacking, ice skating, roller skating, shooting (sporting gun), water polo, hockey, lacrosse and polo.
Among the weird and wonderful proposal titles in the collection we have a Commercial Union Assurance Company proposal of 1934 for Driving Accidents Indemnity (risks outside London postal area for horse drawn vehicles) and a 1957 The National Insurance Company of Great Britain proposal for Personal Injury resulting from Assault by Bandits whilst carrying cash .
In 1953 Employers' Liability Assurance Corporation produced proposals for Coronation Celebrations Public Liability Insurance to cover those planning street parties, while Commercial Union in 1965 offered insurance of Pigeon timing clocks and baskets and in 1909 General Accident Fire and Life Assurance Corporation produced a proposal for The Liability of Grocers for Ptomaine Poisoning. One of my particular favourites amongst these titles is the proposal produced by Railway Passengers Assurance Company in 1928 To secure Compensation in case of Death or Disablement caused by Murder or Assault (unprovoked).
I could go on to discuss the interesting exclusions on some of these policies, for example the business women of 1962 were not covered for motor cycling, steeple chasing, mountaineering or playing polo, while an early fire proposal for 1805 excluded cover for books of account, deeds, notes, bills, bonds, money and gunpowder! I could mention proposals we hold for well known people such as Winston Churchill or discuss the questions asked on the forms themselves such as " Has there ever been Anthrax, Glanders or Farcy amongst your animals?"
Instead I will end on a dilemma which faced North British & Mercantile Insurance Company in 1953 despite all the different proposal forms they offered. In that year the Eastern agents of the company received a request from an RAF Unit to insure their camel " against normal risks, including loss by theft and accident." Having no proposal documents for the insurance of camels the agent passed the request to head office asking whether, being a "ship of the desert", it might be classed as a marine risk.