INSURANCE HISTORY FIRE INSURANCE SUN FIRE-OFFICE (1710)

Sun Fire-Office (“SFO”) is the longest-lasting British insurance company. It started with fire insurance shortly after the 1600s, and part of its beginning was taking over some other companies. A document related to fire insurance, a Salvage Agreement, has already been discussed in a different post. This post is an exposition of one of its early policies. Like at least most other policies of the time, it is short but longer than many. It consists of 16 articles. Not all will be discussed here. One of the most interesting passages in Art. XI.  Some of this blog entry involves quotes from the policy; some are summaries; some are simply my indications.

Art. I.  List of the sort of people who can take out (buy) a Policy. The policy must be signed by 3 members of SFO, and sealed indicating its first quarter of coverage. The applicant purchaser must pay the Stamp Duty. What was covered, it looks like, was fire losses or damage to his or her house and personal effects therein and/or to various commercial items under in that house or another one roof elsewhere. Those commercial items included movable goods, merchandize, wares, and furniture. Their recovery was those items being repaired and made good to him or her by SFO.

Art III. Each policyholder shall receive a “book” entitled The Historical Register. If the policyholder lives within a given area, it shall be provided directly. If not, it will be delivered to a person designated by the policyholder who does live within that district. [MQ: Looks like this is a commercial newspaper, maybe.]

Art. IV. If a person insured both house and commercial goods, he or she must have two separate policies.

Art. V. What is included in coverage? “all merchandizes, Wares, Household Goods, Furniture, etc., excepting Money, Plate, Jewels, Pictures, China Wares, Tallies and Writings.” [Exceptions not Exclusions—MQ guess: same. Tallies = copies of bills and receipts? Writings?

Art VI. Accumulation of reserve funds to cover claims of all “suffers.”

Art VI. Added fee deducted from claim payment for financing whole payment for all covered losses.

Art VII. If a person is insured by SFO and another office and he/she has coverage from SFO and the other firm, s/he will not be liable for additional SFO fees as required under Art VI. [meaning not clear].

Art. VIII. If moneys reserved under Art VI and VII not used for losses during a specified period, it will be distributed to all “Sufferers,” in proportion to their covered loss paid.   Plus other considerations.

Art. IX.  Notice to insurer of fire loss shall be “as soon as” the loss or damage has occurred.“[W]ithin 10 days after every Quarter day, there will be a General Court” held at the said Office, when all Claims and Losses by fire  will be always faithfully paid, according to the Tenor of these Proposals.”

Art. X. Other possible additional claims handling fees.

Art.XI. [MQ:  Complicated claim and claim-handling process] Every Sufferer must make out his or her Loss and damage on Oath before a Judge or Master in Chancery, in the presence of the Clerk of the Company within 10 days after the fire, and carry that affidavit to the Minister or Churchwarden of the parish in which the Fire broke out and some other eminent Housekeepers in the said parish, especially such as live near the place where the fire began but themselves have sustained no damage thereby, and are best acquainted with the person, reputation and circumstances of the said Sufferer, who shall sign a certificate that they know or believe nothing to the contrary, but that the Sufferer has really and by misfortune lost by fire the sum mentioned in his or her Affidavit, upon producing which to the Company he or she will receive his or her claim. But if there appears any fraud or perjury in such Sufferer he or she shall be excluded from any right in these proposals.

Act XII. If an insured “moves,” as we now call it, the policy, upon notice to SFO, will go with him/her.

Art XIII.  Time premiums (“Quarteridge”) are due: 10 days after every Quarter-Day. Lateness may lead to forfeiture.

Art. XIV. Receipts provided insured for premium payment.

Art XV. If the policyholder dies, the policy goes to the executor, if premiums paid.

Art. XVI. Repricing of premium if “book” not wanted.

Michael Sean Quinn, PhD, JD, CPCU, Etc

Michael Sean Quinn, PhD, JD, CPCU, Etc. (530)

One of Texas's leading insurance scholars, Michael Sean Quinn is a past chair of the Insurance Section of the State Bar of Texas and has a broad legal practice.

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