On the Progress of Fire Insurance in Great Britain, as compared with other Countries
The Assurance Magazine and Journal of the Institute of Actuaries
The system of fire insurance has been practised in Great Britain, either by private societies, public companies, or corporate bodies, for more than 180 years. In an article on fire insurance in Vol. XII., Part II., of theEncyclopædia Britannica, 8th edition, recently published, Mr. F. G. Smith draws attention to the various attempts which were made to interest the Corporation of the City of London in the subject, and to the proposals which for this purpose were submitted to the Court of Common
... he Court of Common Council between the years 1669 and 1680, and more especially to one from Mr. Deputy Newbold, which appears to have been the most acceptable. The delay which occurred before the report of the Committee was presented, enabled other private individuals to originate a scheme for fire insurance; and by the advertisements of the day it appears that they offered to insure against damage by fire, brick houses at 6d. in the pound, and timber houses at Is. in the pound—rates which showed the little knowledge which at that time prevailed upon the subject, provided sufficient business could be reckoned upon to obtain an average of the risks. On the 13th October, 1681, the Court of Common Council decided to effect fire insurances on houses within the city and liberties, and engaged a sufficient fund and undoubted security by the Chamber of London, on lands and ground rents, to provide for the fulfilment of their contracts. The war that ensued between those private Societies which had been the first in the field, and the city insurers, gave rise to much amusing pamphleteering and advertisements in the Gazette. In 1681, 1682, and 1683, the journals of the Court of Common Council record the signing of many policies, and refer to the discussions and arguments of their opponents; but the city authorities appear to have been soon weary of the scheme, for, by a resolution of the 13th November, 1682, the Court decided to relinquish the business, to cancel the existing contracts, and to return the money accepted for them.