Century Insurance Company Limited

Company Number: SC001451
Date of Incorporation: 17 April 1885
Contact Details: RSA Level 4 Alexander Bain House, 15 York Street, Glasgow G2 8LA
Operating Details: Active
Other names (if known): Sickness, Accident and Life Association Ltd (1885-1900)
Function of Company*: Non-Life Insurance (6603)
Headquarters/Base of Operations Location: Edinburgh
Area of Operation: Offices in major UK cities, later expansion into Europe, Asia and Australia

*Taken from Standard Industrial Classification 2003, as used by Companies House in 2010


Held By: Wiltshire and Swindon Heritage Centre as part of accessions 3122 and 3677. See the National Archives entry for Friends Provident.

Scope/type: Unknown- see below

Conditions governing access/use: The Friends Provident Archive (of which Century Insurance was a part) was transferred to Wiltshire and Swindon Heritage Centre following the closure of the company’s offices in Dorking in 2008. The collection is as yet uncatalogued, and consists of 40 boxes of records. There is no mention of Century Insurance in the summary lists that exist, although if any records survive it is likely that they would be held within this collection. The Centre is happy for researchers to search the boxes under archival supervision in their searchroom.

Related records: Some records, including example of insurance policies and court files, available at the National Archives of Scotland.

Company History

Founded as the Sickness & Accident Assurance Association in Edinburgh in 1885, initially selling sickness and accident insurance, public liability and fidelity guarantees, the company grew through acquisition, changing its name to the Sickness, Accident & Life Association Ltd in 1897. By the end of the century, funds had reached £100,000, and the year 1900 provided a change of name to the catchier Century Insurance Company Ltd. The new name heralded a period of successful expansion, particularly in the general insurance market.

In 1904 the company moved to new offices in Edinburgh, and also began accepting fire and burglary business. 1906 saw offices open in London, Belfast, Leeds, Manchester and Glasgow. The acquisition of the Mutual Guarantee Company Ltd in 1907 added substantial fire and accident business.

The Century expanded overseas by opening agencies throughout Europe, and in Asia and Australia. When the Century acquired the Anglo-Scottish Insurance Company in 1914, motor insurance was added to the portfolio, and funds had now grown to £1.27 million. 1914 was also the year the company moved into marine insurance, loss of profits, household and employers’ liability - not to mention family income benefit and education endowment policies.

In 1918 The Century became the first major acquisition of Friends Provident. Overseas expansion continued in 1920 when the Century bought shares in the Pacific Coast Fire Insurance Company of Vancouver and took a direct stake in Henry W Brown & Company, which sold fire and accident cover in most American states.