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Oldest insurance companies in India (From 1818-1938)

The history of insurance can be traced back to ancient times. The first forms of insurance were of Indian and Babylonian origin. Insurance has come a long way from the Babylonian bottomry contracts to the sophisticated insurance companies of the modern age.

That being said, have you ever wondered about the oldest insurance companies in India? Well, in this article we will take you back in time and talk about the oldest insurance companies in India.


The Oriental Life Insurance Company (1818)

Formal insurance in India was birthed during the British ruled era. The Oriental Life Insurance Company was the first insurance company formed in India. It was started by Europeans in Calcutta.
The company was established to cater to the needs of the Europeans only, and the Indian natives were insured by the company.

Initially, all the insurance companies established in that period were only formulated with the intention of covering only European natives. However, after the distinguished efforts of Shri. Babu Muttylal Seal and many others, insurance companies started insuring Indian lives.

However, heavy premium charges were levied if the policyholder was an Indian.

Bombay Mutual Life Assurance Society (1871)

Bombay Mutual Life Assurance Society was the first Indian life insurance company formed in India with the objective of covering Indian lives at normal standard rates.

Postal Life Insurance (PLI)

Postal Life Insurance was introduced by the government on 1st February 1884. Its objective was to provide welfare schemes to benefit the postal employees and later the plan also extended to the employees of the telegraph department. In 1894, Post life insurance also provided life insurance coverage to the female employees of the P&T department.

National Insurance Company (1906)

National Insurance Company is the oldest existing general insurance company in India. It was incorporated in Kolkata on 5th December 1906 by Gordhandas Dutia and Jeevan Das Dutia. After its nationalization in 1972, NICL operates as a subsidiary under The General Insurance Corporation of India (GIC)

Indian Mercantile insurance Company (1919)

The Indian Mercantile insurance company was formed on 21 August 1919. It is currently in business for the last 102 years and many of its operations are active.
It is registered In Mumbai and its registered office is at Indian Mercantile Chambers, Nicol Road, Ballard Estate, Mumbai- 400001.

United India Insurance company (1938)

United India is a leading general insurance company formed In 1938 and was nationalized in 1972. It is wholly owned by the government of India and its headquarters is in Chennai.

Hindustan Co-operatives (1907)

Hindustan co-operatives was incorporated in the house of world-renowned poet Shri Rabindranath Tagore in 1907, in Calcutta.

Other old insurance companies

Other Insurance companies incorporated in the pre-independence era are as follows

  • Bharat Insurance Company (1896)
  • Co-operative Assurance (1906)
  • Swadeshi Life (later Bombay Life)
  • Sahyadri Insurance (Merged into LIC, 1986)

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