Search This Blog

Friday, January 15, 2010


Dear (s)  -  {This is an article circulated to my friends subsequent to my vist to NIA Pune during Jan 2007.  Saw this in my archives and thought it fit to post in my blog.}

NIA (National Insurance Academy, Pune), is a capacity builder in Insurance Sector of Asia and Africa founded in 1980 by the Finance Department of the Indian government. Its premier status in the field of study, research and teching in Insurance does not require any introduction. This is all about its connection (newly established) to the Lloyds and more to the coffee table.

Coffee is one of the most widely consumed beverages in the world. It is prepared from the roasted seeds—commonly referred to as beans—of the coffee plant, and is usually served hot but can also be served cold. From humble origins in Africa, coffee cultivation wandered east and west, eventually forming a belt roughly bounded by the Tropics of ancer and Capricorn. Growing regions typically offer moderate sunshine and rain, steady temperatures around 70ºF (20ºC), and rich, porous soil. In return the delicate tree yields beans that are an economic mainstay for dozens of countries and about 25 million people—and, among natural commodities, have a monetary value surpassed only by oil. Of the two main coffee trees, arabicas beget the better beans—and about 70 percent of the harvest. The harsher beans of the hardier robusta tree account for about 30 percent.

Again this is not about what is brewing ??? But wonder, that marine insurance has traces to this coffee, more to the coffee shop – the Lloyds.

Lloyd's of London is a British insurance market. It serves as a meeting place where multiple financial backers or "members", whether individuals (traditionally known as "Names") or corporations, come together to pool and spread risk. Unlike most of its competitors in the reinsurance market, it is neither a company nor a corporation. The market began in Edward Lloyd's coffeehouse around 1688 in Tower Street, London. While Lloyd was only the proprietor of the coffeehouse, his establishment was a popular place for sailors, merchants, and shipowners and Lloyd catered to them with reliable shipping news and a variety of services. 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. In those days, in the absence of mass media, the coffee houses emerged as the primary source of news and rumour. Then as now, anyone who was seeking insurance would go to a broker, who would then hawk the risk to the individual risk-takers who gathered in the coffee houses or in the precincts of the Royal Exchange. Lloyd's coffee house served from the start as the headquarters for marine underwriters, in large part because of its excellent mercantile and shipping connections. "Lloyd's List" was eventually enlarged to provide daily news on stock prices, foreign markets, and high-water times at London Bridge, along with the usual notices of ship arrivals and departures and reports of accidents and sinkings.

Lloyd's is not an insurance company. It is an insurance market of members, both corporate and individual. Lloyd's members conduct their insurance business in syndicates, each of which is run by a managing agent. In line with the global insurance industry trends, both syndicates and managing agents
have been consolidating over the last few years. However, there is little change to the opening position of 2007:
ü      · Syndicates have increased from 62 to 66 in 2007 (including 3 Special Purpose Syndicates (SPS's).
ü      · Managing agents have reduced to 42 in 2007.

Now you have had some background of Lloyds. The business was  transacted around tables. It was around one of these tables — there were two originally — at Edward Lloyd’s coffeehouse that the insurance market started in 1688 in London. The tradition of doing business around the coffee table stuck and it officially became the Lloyd’s Box when the new building — Lloyd’s Building in London — came up. The managing agent would sit at the centre of the box and represent the member of the Lloyd’s syndicate in the trading ring. The racks and rawers (rectangular boxes) were used to store the policy documents.

While one of the tables is buried under the landmark Lloyd’s building in London, the second box passed through several hands, reaching the World’s top brokerage house Marsh & McLennan via the company they acquired from Bowering, one of the UK’s largest insurance broking houses.

This premier educational institution has evinced keen interest in getting this antique table, which was inherited by Marsh, at a broking seminar in 2002. It is understood that one of the students Sanjay Kedia, CEO of Marsh in India, helped fulfil this wish to get a piece of history to NIA. As it turns out, the historical table, 40 per cent of it broken, travelled quite a distance before reaching Pune. In the middle of 2006, the horseshoe-shaped coffee table called the Lloyd’s Box from Lloyd’s of London, culminated its journey at NIA. The consignment weighing 4,300 kg, shipped at a cost of Rs 6-7 lakh, has been placed for viewing at Greenleaf room.

It really gives one weird imaginative thoughts to be somewhere near  this antique piece which has so much history behind it. Here are some photos {taken in a mobile camera} of the table for those who have not had the opportunity to near this object of mariner’s passion.

With regards  - S. Sampathkumar


  1. That must have been a super feeling to you Sampath to have seen that piece and taken a photo.

    Were you allowed to sit on one of those chairs?

    Thanks for a insightful article.

  2. Dear Sathya

    The table had just arrived at NIA by the time I went there. Though the hall was open and there were not anybody around, did not feel like sitting on the table - went closer thinking of the early days of organised insurane and those who had so much of fore though in organising insurance so scientifically.
    Regards - Sampathkumar

  3. Amazing.... thanks for the photo and a very good write up.
    Regards, Sunil