White Cross Insurance Association Ltd (No. 1)
The first White Cross Insurance Association Ltd was established in 1906 as the Red Cross Indemnity Assurance Company and registered on December 6 1907 as a limited company. In February 1912, the company was renamed the White Cross Insurance Association Ltd following the Hague Convention and legal limitations placed on the use of the red cross symbol and the words 'red cross'.
White Cross proposal, 1914
The association was founded by W C Bersey, an engineer who pioneered the calculation of motor premiums based on the horse power, age and type of vehicle. He was also one of the first insurers to write motor policies from scratch rather than adapting existing ones for cycle and horse-drawn carriage insurance.
Bersey developed his underwriting strategy while working as an examiner of wrecked cars for the Law Accident Insurance Society Ltd. Soon afterwards, Bersey was introduced to A L Sturge, an underwriter (and future Chairman of Lloyds), who became his business partner. The two men were the association's first managers.
The association quickly gained a foothold in the motor business. Each policy was sent out in an aluminium case that contained a claim form, instructions in case of accident, a list of officially appointed repairers throughout the country and a card showing authorising repairs to be undertaken. The last feature was particularly popular with motorists who had previously had to wait some time before repairs could be authorised.
The company also issued prospectuses applicable to cars of different makes approved by the manufacturers. Before long, the small association was well known in motoring circles and had become a leading motor insurer.
In May 1914, the association was acquired by the Northern Assurance Company Ltd. In September that year, the company was dissolved and the second White Cross Insurance Association was established. The Northern became a subsidiary of the Commercial Union Assurance Company Ltd in 1968.
|1906||The company is established|
|1912||Name change to the White Cross Insurance Association Ltd|
|1914||The company is acquired by the Northern Assurance Company|
|1914||The company is dissolved|
|1968||The Northern becomes a subsidiary of the Commercial Union Assurance Company|
Did you know...?
White Cross renewal receipt, c1913
- The association's founder W C Bersey is a well-known figure in the history of motoring in the United Kingdom. In 1896, he took part in the famous 'Emancipation Run', when more than 30 motorists drove from London to Brighton to celebrate the passing of the Locomotives on the Highway Act, which raised the speed limit from four to 14 miles per hour.
- In 1897, W C Bersey founded the London Electric Cab Company to run a fleet of electric cabs in London. Bersey had designed the cabs himself and they were the first in London not pulled by horses and an early example of electrically powered automobiles.
Head office premises
|1907 - 1912||1 Cornhill, London|
|1912 - 1914||5 Moorgate Street, London|
Staff and officials
|1907 - 1914||W C Bersey (also general manager)|
|1907 - 1912 at least||Prices Forbes & Company|
|c1913 - 1914||W C Bersey (also secretary)|
- T Forbes
- A L Sturge
- W E Trenam
In the archives
The Aviva archive contains records relating to the running of the first White Cross Insurance Association between 1907 and 1914. The collection includes advertising material and specimen motor policies.