Weird Insurance Policy: Lloyd's of London Bank

About the world-famous Lloyd's of London bank and insurance association which will insure almost anything.

Where to Buy a Happiness Insurance Policy

Lloyd's of London, the world-famous insurance association, has insured everything from the 1st airplane and zaftig [pleasingly plump] Hollywood sex symbols to John Glenn as America's 1st astronaut, but wrote only marine insurance at its inception. Lloyd's takes its name from a coffeehouse operated by Edward Lloyd, the earliest record of whom is in 1688 and who died in 1713. For travelers, Lloyd served as a sort of one-man tourist bureau and there is even evidence that he would fix the press gang who shanghaied men into the naval service-for a price.

Virtually nothing else is known about the elusive enterprising Lloyd except that businessmen willing to insure against sea risks congregated at his coffeehouse on Lombard Street and issued marine policies to shipowners. Here Lloyd's List, a paper devoted to shipping news, was published in 1734, making it the oldest London newspaper excepting the London Gazette. By 1760 the precursor of Lloyd's Register of Shipping had been printed and only 15 years later the phrase A-1 was used in its pages to denote the highest class of ship, novelist Charles Dickens 1st applying A-1 to people and things in 1837.

Lloyd's, now international in scope, eventually moved to the Royal Exchange and finally to its present $15-million palace on Lime Street. It adopted its name legally when incorporated a century ago, not long before writing the 1st burglary insurance (1889). Lloyd's also wrote the 1st policy covering loss of profits resulting from fire and pioneered in automobile and workman's compensation insurance.

The corporation can issue anything but long-term life insurance. Rather than an insurance company, it is a corporate group of some 300 syndicates composed of about 5,500 strictly supervised individual underwriters, each of whom must deposit large sums--about $35,000--as security against default on the risks each accepts. Lloyd's name has been adopted by several foreign shipping companies having no connection with it. Although the group did not write the 1st marine policy--this dating back to a Florentine policy issued in 1501--its name is synonymous with marine insurance and Lloyd's has long pioneered in setting maritime standards and safety measures. Lloyd's prime concern is still shipping insurance and it boasts that its agents watch every mile of seacoast throughout the world.

Three million dollars daily in premiums is taken in by Lloyd's, an underwriter of the 1880s named Cuthbert Bean having been mainly responsible for the group pioneering beyond marine insurance. Some interesting Lloyd's policies and losses in its risky history include:

...a $ 100,000 "love insurance" policy that provided payment if a certain photographer's model married (she did, but after the policy expired).

...a "happiness policy" that insured against "worry lines" developing on a model's face.

...losses paid of $3,019,400 after the Lutine Bell rang over the rostrum announcing the Titanic disaster; more than $5.6 million on the Andrea Doria; $1,463,400 on the San Francisco earthquake; $110 million on Hurricane Carol in 1954.

...$22,400 worth of protection ($74 premium) against "death caused by accident" in the form of a falling sputnik.

...policies insuring against the chances of having twins, one's golf opponent making a hole in one, war and peace, rained-out church socials, and losing one's lover.

...Betty Grable's legs insured for $250,000; Jimmy Durante's nose, $140,000; a corporation executive's brain for an undisclosed amount; flamenco dancer Jose Greco's special trousers insured against splitting at $980 a pair; Fred Astaire's legs for $650,000; Zorina's toes at $25,000 per; Abbott and Costello insured for $250,000 against disagreement over a 5-year period; actress Julie Bishop, $25,000 against her gaining 4" around the hips or waist over a 7-year period; and a $250,000 policy on the 42" bust of an unnamed English actress.

...risks turned down include a policy insuring the back teeth of an acrobat, who hung from them in her act, and the request by a European gentleman to insure his daughter's virginity.

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