GWP less treaty: £663.9m


Miller Street, Manchester M60 0AL

t: 0161 832 8686

f: 0161 837 4048


Main lines of business: General insurance, life assurance, savings.

Number of UK offices: 142

Number of UK employees (2003): 9,763

Company history:

The movement began in Rochdale in 1844. As the co-operative idea developed and more societies opened shops it became clear that their insurance arrangements were inadequate, and an insurance company was formed.

The Co-operative Insurance Company Ltd was registered on 29 August 1867.

In 1869, the company expanded its business into fidelity guarantee insurance.

There was not the same rigid control of accounts as there is today and it was fairly easy for a clever person to defraud companies of money.

Fidelity guarantee insurance guaranteed a company reimbursement if there was such a loss of funds.

In July 1871, the head office moved from its premises in Rochdale to Manchester, where it has remained ever since.

Until the mid 1880s, the company only offered fire and fidelity guarantee insurance, but in February 1886 it began issuing life policies. In 1899, industrial life business was also introduced and the company was converted into an industrial and provident society. The amended rules were registered on 11 March and since then the company has been called the Co-operative Insurance Society Ltd. Other classes of business were provided for the general public and not just for co-operative societies and their members.

By 1908, a new head office had been built at 109 Corporation Street, Manchester. By 1912 there were offices in Glasgow, Edinburgh, Bradford, Newcastle, London and Dublin. In 1909, the society became a non-tariff insurer.

In June 1913, the shares of the society were taken over by the Co-operative Wholesale Society and the Scottish Co-operative Wholesale Society. Today CWS and its directors are still the society's only shareholders.

Business generally began to increase during the 1920s so that a separate motor department was opened and, by 1930, the motor income exceeded £500,000 per annum.

As the society grew, so did the number of staff needed to deal with the increase in work. The office at 109 Corporation Street was unable to house them and various departments were scattered in ten buildings in Manchester.

So, in August 1962, a new building was opened at Miller Street, not more than 100 yards from the society's old office. This imposing building now houses approximately 2,500 staff.