Some Baffling Insurance Policies Issued by Lloyd's of London

London’s gentlemen’s clubs became notorious for gambling, drinking, and other nefarious activities in the 18th century. Wikimedia

2. Lloyd’s degenerated into a gambling club just before the American Revolution

In the mid-18th century London contained several gentlemen’s clubs which were notorious for the drinking, wenching, and gambling which occurred under their roofs. Besides the routine gambling of the day, on cards, with dice, and in board games and so on, fantastic wagers were made and entered into the club’s books. The numbers of robberies on a given road on a given day was one such wager. Another was the time of the evening upon which a particularly inebriated member would pass out. Wagers of large sums were often shared by several members, which was essentially the method used by Lloyd’s in its groups.

Large sums of money were made by Lloyd’s members during the Seven Years’ War, but the return of peace lowered insurance rates and shipping costs, and the profits dwindled. Lloyd’s members began to invest in all sorts of interests, not unlike the gentlemen’s clubs such as White’s and Boodle’s. It developed the reputation of being just another gambling house, though it maintained its maritime interests. This led Lloyd’s to later agree to cover risks which seem at some times spurious, and at others simply silly, but it still covers many risks which are both interesting and to some, quite unusual.