Country: UK
Net premiums written 1999: $11,171m (£7,861.9m)

Head office:
1 Lime Street
United Kingdom
Tel: +44 20 7327 1000

Year established: approximately 1688
Main classes of business: A full range of risks

Lloyd's began in Edward Lloyd's Thames-side coffee house in Tower Street in the City of London. Although the exact date of its establishment is unknown, evidence exists that Lloyd's coffee house was well known in London business circles by 1688.

Lloyd himself was not involved in insurance but provided premises, reliable shipping news and a variety of services to enable his clientele of ships' captains, merchants and rich men to carry on their business of insuring ships and their cargoes.

The wealthy individuals in the coffee house would each take a share of a risk, signing their names one beneath the other on the policy together, with the amount they agreed to cover. For this reason they were known as “underwriters”.

Lloyd died in 1713, but the coffee house continued to prosper as a centre for marine insurance and, by the end of the 18th century, the underwriters had elected a committee and moved to their own premises in the Royal Exchange.

Only members of Lloyd's were allowed to accept insurance business.

The Society of Lloyd's was incorporated by Lloyd's Act 1871, which provided the business with a sound legal basis and laid the foundations for today's market. By the turn of the century the traditional club of marine underwriters had become an international market for insurance risks of almost every type. Lloyd's pre-eminence as a world centre for insurance had been established.

Chief officers: Saxon Riley, chairman; Nicholas Prettejohn, chief executive officer