Today marks 150 years since Co-op Insurance was founded. Since then the business has achieved so much, and become a major player in the insurance market. Here are some of the milestones that stand out for me:

  • In 2011 we introduced ethical screening of our investments, selling investments in a number of companies
  • In 2011 we were the first major insurer to introduce a telematics product, rewarding young drivers for safer driving
  • In 2006 we were the first insurer to launch an Eco-Motor Insurance policy
  • In 2005 our support centre in Manchester was clad in solar panels, becoming Europe’s largest vertical solar array

Our Insurance business has always stayed true to co-operative values and principles, which is probably why it was named one of the most trusted insurance brands in 2017. However, one thing people might not know, is how our Insurance business started – in the most co-operative way possible, as a response to a catastrophic fire in a Tenby co-operative food store.

As the letter ‘Another fire’ shows, the store lost nearly all its stock anewspaper_cutting2nd the damage was £200 – a huge amount in those days. With no insurance, the Secretary of the Tenby Industrial and Provident Society appealed to other co-operative societies for donations and loans to rebuild the business.

From there the idea of an insurance scheme for co-operatives was born, as James Borrowman, the Secretary of a Co-operative Society in Ayrshire, wrote to the Co-operator magazine:

“Why pay between £1,000 and £2,000 per annum to swell the profits or cover the risks of associations with which we have little or nothing in common? … Co-operative stores ought to insure each other and so have a mutual fire insurance of our own.”

And so, with the support of many other co-operative societies, a company was formed on 29 August 1867 in Rochdale, which went on to become Co-op Insurance as we know it today.

Our insurance business came about when co-operatives worked together to find a solution to a common problem. I’m proud that 150 years later, Co-op Insurance is still championing a better way of doing business.

Pippa Wicks,
Deputy Chief Executive