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Lloyd's

LLOYD'S, an association of merchants, shipowners, underwriters, and ship and insurance brokers, having its headquarters in a suite of rooms in the north-east corner of the Royal Exchange, London. Originally a mere gathering of merchants for business or gossip in a coffee-house kept by one Edward Lloyd in Tower Street, London, the earliest notice of which occurs in the London Gazette of the 18th of February 1688, this institution has gradually become one of the greatest organizations in the world in connexion with commerce. The establishment existed in Tower Street up to 1692, in which year it was removed by the proprietor to Lombard Street, in the centre of that portion of the city most frequented by merchants of the highest class. Shortly after this event Mr Lloyd established a weekly newspaper furnishing commercial and shipping news, in those days an undertaking of no small difficulty. This paper took the name of Lloyd's News, and, though its life was not long, it was the precursor of the now ubiquitous Lloyd's List, the oldest existing paper, the London Gazette excepted. In Lombard Street the business transacted at Lloyd's coffee-house steadily grew, but it does not appear that throughout the greater part of the 18th century the merchants and underwriters frequenting the rooms were bound together by any rules, or acted under any organization. By and by, however, the increase of marine insurance business made a change of system and improved accommodation necessary, and after finding a temporary resting-place in Pope's Head Alley, the underwriters and brokers settled in the Royal Exchange in March 1774. One of the first improvements in the mode of effecting marine insurance was the introduction of a printed form of policy. Hitherto various forms had been in use; and, to avoid numerous disputes the committee of Lloyd's proposed a general form, which was adopted by the members on the 12th of January 1779, and remains in use, with a few slight alterations, to this day. The two most important events in the history of Lloyd's during the 19th century were the reorganization of the association in 1811, and the passing of an act in 1871 granting to Lloyd's all the rights and privileges of a corporation sanctioned by parliament. According to this act of incorporation, the three main objects for which the society exists are first, the carrying out of the business of marine insurance; secondly, the protection of the interests of the members of the association; and thirdly, the collection, publication and diffusion of intelligence and information with respect to shipping. In the promotion of the last-named object an intelligence department has been developed which for wideness of range and efficient working has no parallel among private enterprises. By Lloyd's Signal Station Act 1888, powers were conferred on Lloyd's to establish signal stations with telegraphic communications, and by the Derelict Vessels (Report) Act 1896, masters of British ships are required to give notice to Lloyd's agents of derelict vessels, which information is published by Lloyd's.

The rooms at Lloyd's are available only to subscribers and members. The former pay an annual subscription of five guineas without entrance fee, but have no voice in the management of the institution. The latter consist of non-underwriting members, who pay an entrance fee of twelve guineas, and of underwriting members who pay a fee of 100. Underwriting members are also required to deposit securities to the value of 5000 to 10,000, according to circumstances, as a guarantee for their engagements. The management of the establishment is delegated by the members to certain of their number selected as a " committee for managing the affairs of Lloyd's." With this body lies the appointment of all the officials and agents of the institution, the daily routine of duty being entrusted to a secretary and a large staff of clerks and other assistants. The mode employed in effecting an insurance at Lloyd's is simple. The business is done entirely by brokers, who write upon a slip of paper the name of the ship and shipmaster, the nature of the voyage, the subject to be insured, and the amount at which it is valued. If the risk is accepted, each underwriter subscribes his name and the amount he agrees to take or underwrite, the insurance being effected as soon as the total value is made up.

See F. Martin, History of Lloyd's and of Marine Insurance in Great Britain (1876).

Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)

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