Hibernian General Insurance Ltd

Hibernian General Insurance was established on May 28 1908 as the Hibernian Fire & General Insurance Company Ltd. The company started as a fire insurer, initially concentrating on public authority business from the Dublin Corporation, and has undergone a number of changes in the period since.

Company History

Hibernian farmers policy

Hibernian Insurance farmers policy

Hibernian proposals

Hibernian Insurance proposals

In 1925, the Guardian Assurance Company Ltd purchased a majority shareholding in the company and, by 1931, it was offering fire, accident, motor, fidelity guarantee and plate glass insurance. In 1940, the company started to transact engineering business and, in 1946, added marine insurance in partnership with the Irish National Insurance Company Ltd.

In 1935, Guardian Assurance sold the company to a consortium of Irish firms, including the Bank of Ireland. In 1964, the Commercial Union Assurance Company Ltd acquired the majority shareholding from the Bank of Ireland and, in May 1966, changed the company's name to the Hibernian Insurance Company Ltd. By 1969, Commercial Union owned 99.9% of shares in the company.

Following acquisition by Commercial Union, the company ceased operating in Northern Ireland and took over Commercial Union's business and subsidiaries in the Republic of Ireland. By 1973, as well as offering fire, accident and marine insurance, the company was managing an investment portfolio consisting of cash, stocks, shares and property.

In 1979, a consortium of Irish investors acquired the majority shareholding in the company while Commercial Union retained a 30% share. In 1982, the company was authorised to commence business in the UK and, in 1984, changed its name to Hibernian Insurance plc.

In May 1986, the company was purchased by the Hibernian Group plc. On 4 November 1999, it was acquired by CGU Insurance plc, which had been formed following the merger of Commercial Union and the General Accident Fire and Life Assurance Corporation Ltd. The company's name changed to Hibernian General Insurance Ltd on 2 October 2000.

Key dates

Year Event
1908 The company is established
1925 The Guardian Assurance Company purchases a majority shareholding
1935 Guardian Assurance sells the company to a consortium of Irish companies
1964 The Commercial Union Assurance Company acquires a majority shareholding
1966 Name changes to the Hibernian Insurance Company
1979 A consortium of Irish investors acquires the majority shareholding
1984 Name changes to Hibernian Insurance plc
1986 The company is purchased by the Hibernian Group
1999 The company is acquired by CGU Insurance
2000 Name changes to Hibernian General Insurance

Did you know...?

  • The first chairman of the company was Alderman William F Cotton who, at the time, was also managing director of the Alliance and Dublin Gas Consumers Company Limited. He also held directorships in the Hibernian Bank and the Dublin United Tramway Company.
  • Jack McGowran worked for the company before embarking on a successful film and stage career. He became a distinguished member of the Abbey Theatre Company and was regarded as one of the finest interpreters of Samuel Beckett's works, particularly his one-man plays.
  • Gordon Wood, Irish and Lions rugby international and father of the celebrated Irish hooker Keith Wood, was a general inspector at the company's head office.
  • Eamonn Andrews, who hosted the popular and long-running Independent Television show "This is Your Life", worked for the company for a number of years before starting his television career.

Subsidiaries and constituents*

Year Company name
1946 Irish Marine Pool Ltd (established with the Irish National Insurance Company)
1937 - by 1970 Irish Freehold & Leasehold Investment Company
1965 - by 1970 Hibernian Trustee Company Ltd
1975 Hibernian Insurance Property Company Ltd (jointly owned with CU Properties (UK) Ltd)
1981 - 1985 Life Association of Ireland
1986 Policy Investment Trust Ltd
1986 Accrington Investments
1986 Turner Underwriting Agencies Ltd
1988 Hibernian Investment Managers
1988 Hibernian Reinsurance Ltd
1988 Hibernian Risk Management (joint venture with Commercial Union)
1985 - 1995 Hallmark Insurance Company Ltd
1990 - 2006 Ark Life

* Please note the first date given is the date of the establishment of the company and the second date is the date the company was acquired or became a subsidiary. Where only one date is given the company was established as a subsidiary of the parent company. Where one date is preceded by a hyphen the date of the establishment of the company is not known.

Head office premises

Year Address
1908 - 1919 49 Dame Street, Dublin (48 Dame Street was purchased in 1918 and the new building opened in 1919)
1919 - 1938 48-49 Dame Street, Dublin (46 and 47 Dame Street were purchased in 1938)
1938 - 1965 46-49 Dame Street, Dublin (the enlarged offices were opened on the same site in 1954)
1965 - 1983 Hawkins House, Hawkins Street, Dublin
1983 - 2006 Haddington Road, Dublin
2006 - One Park Place, Hatch Street, Dublin

Staff and officials

General Manager

Year Name
by 1924 -1926 W A R Cruise (also secretary)
1926 - 1931 P J O'Sullivan (also secretary)
1931 - 1946 W Craig Martin (also secretary)
1946 - 1957 J W Gallagher
1958 - 1964 P J Smyth (joint general manager from 1963)
1963 - 1964 James Beggs (joint general manager)
1964 - 1973 David Weston
1973 - 1975 Leslie W Hammick
1975 - 1977 Ian H Heatley
1977 - 1995 Eamon F Walsh
1995 - 1999 Adrian Daly
1999 - 2002 Patrick McGorrian
2002 - 2007 Brian Jenkins
2007 - Stuart Purdy

Secretary

Year Name
1908 - by 1926 W A R Cruise (also general manager)
1926 - 1931 P J O'Sullivan (also general manager)
1931 - 1946 W Craig Martin (also general manager)
by 1951 - 1957 at least James Beggs
by 1968 - 1986 at least Edmund MacHugh

Directors (1908)

  • Alderman William F Cotton
  • D J Cogan
  • Alderman Patrick W Corrigan
  • Alderman Sir Joseph Downes
  • William Field MP (President of the Irish Cattle Traders' and Stock Owners' Association)
  • Richard Jones (Chairman of the District Lunatic Asylum)
  • John Mulligan (Director of the Hibernian Bank)
  • George W Strahan
  • James Walker

Home branches and agencies

  • Cork (1910)
  • Dundalk (1911)
  • Limerick (1919)
  • Kilkenny (1944)
  • Sligo (1944)
  • Waterford (1944)
  • The company had a total of 27 branches in Ireland by 1967.

Overseas branches

  • Belfast, Northern Ireland (1909)
  • Derry, Northern Ireland (1931)
  • Paris, France (by 1945)
  • Johannesburg, South Africa (by 1945)
  • Sydney, Australia (by 1945)
  • North America (by 1945)
  • Canada (by 1945)
  • Salisbury (Harare), Rhodesia (Zimbabwe) (by 1956)
  • Lusaka, Nyasaland (Zambia) (by 1956)
  • London, United Kingdom (1983)

Overseas agencies

  • Antwerp, Belgium (by 1957)
  • London, United Kingdom (by 1957)
  • Liverpool, United Kingdom (by 1957)
  • Amsterdam, Netherlands (by 1957)
  • Hamburg, Germany (by 1957)

Published history

Hibernian Insurance Company - A century of Insurance 1908 - 2007 (by Paul Mulhern. 2008).

In the archive

The Aviva archive contains records relating to the running of Hibernian General Insurance between 1964 and 2002. The collection includes annual reports and accounts, marketing material, press cuttings, agreements and reports.

Other resources

Further material relating to Hibernian General Insurance is held within the business in Ireland. Contact the Aviva Group archive for more details.

Top of page

Search for a company

Search for a country