The company commenced business on 25 December 1837 as a life insurer offering special rates for ministers and those "connected with the great body of Protestant Dissenters". Reverend Thomas Price DD, one of the main founders, was appointed the company's first manager. Life assurance.
A special committee had already met in November 1837 to consider the running of the company and recommended entering the fire business and setting aside a proportion of profits for a "Ministers' Fund" to benefit ministers and their families. At first, the company limited itself to insuring nonconformists. However, it became clear that more profitable business could be gained from ending this limitation.
General Life prospectus, 1910
Benefits of term life insurance
In March 1838, the company issued its first life policy. By 1839, the year the company issued its first annuity policy, it had underwritten 446 policies. On April 3 1840, an act of parliament about the company gained royal assent, allowing it to change its name to the General Life and Fire Assurance Company on March 18 1847.
Among the first fire risks undertaken was one for £6,000 on Baker's Chop House, a well-known coffee house in Change Alley, London. The fire business was sold in 1892 to the London and Lancashire Fire Insurance Company after losses in major conflagrations at St Johns, Newfoundland, Canada and Sundsvall, Sweden. On June 29 1893, the company changed its name again, this time to the General Life Assurance Company.
In 1925, the company became a subsidiary of the General Accident Fire and Life Assurance Corporation Ltd. On December 20 1927, the company was incorporated as the General Life Assurance Company.
The next few decades saw many changes. On January 1 1969, the company changed its name to the Yorkshire General Life Assurance Company and again, in 1970, to the Yorkshire-General Life Assurance Company, after taking over the life business of General Accident's subsidiaries, Yorkshire Insurance and the Scottish Insurance Corporation. On January 1 1985 the company was renamed General Accident Life Assurance Ltd. On October 1 1998 it became known as CGU Life Assurance Ltd and, finally, on October 2 2000, the company was renamed CGNU Life Assurance Ltd.
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