Insurance Museum Festive Facts

Season’s Greetings to all our supporters. Whilst we are all away for a relaxing break, please enjoy our Festive Insurance History Facts.

Did you know…?

It’s not a UK bank or a pharmacy. 

Many people grew up in the London market with the admonition never to omit the apostrophe in the name Lloyd’s when dealing with that renowned market. What today would be referred to as induction training, would, prior to the 1970s, frequently have been opened with lines such as: “it is a cardinal sin to omit the apostrophe from Lloyd’s.” At this time of year, it is tempting to imagine the seventeenth century wealthy risk takers or sea-faring merchants that congregated near the Tower of London, or later in Lombard Street, enjoying a warming, exotic beverage in the coffee-house owned by Edward Lloyd and simply known as Lloyd’s.


Grotto related injuries

In 1936, Cora Griffin starred in a pantomime. She was insured for £20,000 against the risk of being injured whilst “climbing about in the grotto”. Also insured at Lloyd’s that year were 20 cockatoos – they were members of the Scala Christmas Show.


Insuring Santa’s Beard 

“Santa to the Stars”, Brady White. He has been hired to visit the homes of Elizabeth Taylor, Sylvester Stallone and John Travolta. His beard has been insured since 1992 – “All sorts of things can happen to Santa’s beard and I wanted to know that it was protected. Children can be a little rough, so it gets tugged and pulled a lot.”


The world’s most expensive Christmas bauble

The world’s most expensive Christmas bauble has a nativity scene on it, made from gold and platinum and a diamond Star of Bethlehem at the top. It was displayed in Columbus in 1992 and insured for $100,000. As part of the policy, it had to be guarded at all times.


Snow on Christmas Day

William Yonkus is a jewellery store owner from Michigan. In 1995, he promised customers that anything they bought between November 20th and Christmas Eve would be refunded if three inches of snow fell on Christmas Day. He had studied snowfall patterns for 25 years and realised he had a 30-1 shot at losing. He stood to pay refunds of $500,000 to 2,500 customers, but luckily, snowfall stopped at two inches. He had taken out a prize indemnity policy at Lloyd’s – just in case!


Insurance for the Panto Season

The death of Queen Victoria occurred during pantomime season and was announced to audiences across the country. Refunds were offered to audience members that went into mourning, but financial losses were aggravated as some of those from the pit and gallery made their way through the stalls and to the box office. The result was that in many theatres, the cashier paid more in refunds than had been taken. This led to the offer of insurance to producers against the risk of a member of the Royal Family dying passing during panto season.


West London comes to the rescue of EC3

After several decades of successful underwriting, with associated profits year in, year out, Hurricane Betsy proved very expensive in 1965 and produced an overall underwriting loss for the market. In the 1960s, the Names (Underwriting Members of Lloyd’s) with unlimited liability, were wealthy, resourceful and very honourable. 

When asked how he had funded his underwriting losses, one working Name responded: “Oh, I simply sold two houses in Holland Park”. London was a different place in the 1960s, but it’s tempting to wonder what those houses would be worth today!


With thanks to our Insurance Museum supporters, Paul Miller and Terry Hayday. 

We look forward to seeing and working with you in 2022.

If you want to support the Insurance Museum, please donate here.

Insurance Museum Festive Facts

December 20th 2021

Registered Charity address:
C/o Chartered Insurance Institute
3rd Floor, 20 Fenchurch Street,
London EC3M 3BY
Charity No. 1188138

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