Running an insurance company in 17th century England meant that customers were ready to insure their belongings from contemporary threats which may seem a bit odd today. One such insurance company was Hand-in-Hand Fire and Life Insurance Company, founded in 1696, whose present day constituent is now known as Aviva insurance company.
According to a statement by Aviva, at the time the company was started, it was an insurer against fire. However, the organisation evolved as people’s needs changed, and started offering insurance to cover homes, personal possessions, motoring, travel, health and personal injuries, pensions, and investments. The first policy was taken out on January 15, 1697, and the first claim was paid on May 11 of that year, when houses in St Stephen’s Alley, Westminster, were damaged by fire, mentioned Aviva. As Aviva comes close to celebrating its 325th anniversary on November 12, it is interesting to take a look at how far the insurance company has come.
Some of the interesting insurance claims at the time included that from injuries. One of the insurance claims made by a customer was regarding injuring his finger which was caught in a woman’s corset in 1888. The injury happened as the man was trying to save her from drowning, mentioned the Aviva website. Another insurance claim found among the archives of Hand-in-Hand Fire and Life Insurance Company was by a surgeon in 1884 who suffered a “poisoned hand” when he unpacked a box of drugs.
The insurance company gave £10 to a customer who had an injury insurance after he lost a toenail while getting into bed. Meanwhile, a vicar was given £120 after they fell while playing leap-frog in 1875. Some other intriguing insurance claims include London hotel keeper receiving £25 and 10 shillings in 1878 after being hit in the eye with a cork following the opening of a bottle of champagne. Another policyholder, who went away for a holiday with his family, had kept the family jewels on a stove for safety, found that the stove was lit damaging the jewelry.