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Identity Statement

Reference code(s): GB 0074 CLC/B/017-05
Held at: London Metropolitan Archives
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Date(s): 1917-1990
Level of description: Collection
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Extent: 205 production units.
Name of creator(s): British Insurance Association


Administrative/Biographical history:

The formation of an association of insurance offices of all types of business was suggested at a meeting of the Fire Offices Committee on 28 July 1916. Initially, a sub-committee was set up to monitor legislation affecting insurance companies, while an association of composite offices was being formed to consider "questions affecting the interests of insurance both at home and abroad". In 1917, this resulted in the British Insurance Association, with a brief to provide information and express views to government departments and other bodies requiring help or advice on insurance problems, and to monitor affairs worldwide which might affect member offices. This was felt to be particularly important in the years immediately after World War I. During the 1920s the Association's work declined, but the worldwide economic and political crises of the 1930s revived interest in its functions as an umbrella organization with wider scope and powers, including investment protection. It became actively involved in liaising with various Boards and legislative committees, such as the Cassel Committee on compulsory insurance.

Until 1956, the BIA mainly worked through its chairman and the General Purposes Committee, who were empowered to act when necessary. The General Purposes Committee devolved many of its functions to sub-committees co-opted from members with relevant expertise, and these in turn delegated to sub-sub-committees. In 1956, these sub-committees were renamed committees, and their subsidiaries consequently became sub-committees. From 1945, the BIA also represented its members' interests in matters concerning nationalization, and successfully negotiated several agreements with nationalized bodies. It was also closely involved with work on metrication, decimalization, company law, health and safety.

The BIA's nationalisation work had shown it that public opinion was a potent force, and it accordingly began a public relations programme of lectures, films and press releases about insurance matters, as well as participating in major exhibitions in Britain and abroad. Until 1953 the BIA had no offices of its own. From 1918 to 1937 it was at St Michael's Rectory, Cornhill, the business address of its secretary. In 1937 it moved to 19a Coleman Street, the headquarters of the Equitable Life, and also the business address of its chairman. In 1953 it moved to Estates House, 66 Gresham Street; in 1957 to Barrington House, 59-67 Gresham Street; and for a few weeks in 1962 to Abacus House, 33 Gutter Lane, before finally moving on 30 June 1962 to Aldermary House, Queen Street. This building also housed a number of other insurance associations.

In 1985, the British Insurance Association was abolished and its functions transferred to the Association of British Insurers.


Scope and content/abstract:

Records of the British Insurance Association, mainly minutes of General Meetings and Committee meetings. Many of the minutes are unsigned copies. In addition, many minutes are accompanied by related papers, such as agendas, reports and correspondence. The collection also includes extensive correspondence and circulars. The records are held off-site and require 48 hours notice for access.

Access & Use

Language/scripts of material:

System of arrangement:

Records arranged by MS number, assigned during cataloguing at the Guildhall Library Manuscripts Section.

Conditions governing access:

Access by appointment only. Please contact staff.

Conditions governing reproduction:

Copyright to this collection rests with the City of London.

Finding aids:

Please see online catalogues at:

Archival Information

Archival history:

The records are uneven in coverage, and appear to have been vigorously weeded in the 1950s.

Immediate source of acquisition:

The ABI deposited the records of the BIA in the Manuscripts Section of Guildhall Library in September 1985. This deposit was converted to an outright gift in June 1994. The Guildhall Library Manuscripts Section merged with the London Metropolitan Archives in 2009. Further records were transferred in 2011.

Allied Materials

Related material:

Publication note:

For a history of the Association see W L Catchpole and E Elverston, B.I.A. Fifty: 1917-1967. Fifty years of the British Insurance Association (1967).

Description Notes

Archivist's note:

Rules or conventions:
Compiled in compliance with General International Standard Archival Description, ISAD(G), second edition, 2000; National Council on Archives Rules for the Construction of Personal, Place and Corporate Names, 1997.

Date(s) of descriptions:
November 2010 to January 2011.

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