With the world's leading batsman and India's ace cricketer, Sachin Tendulkar, as its brand ambassador, Aviva Group companies can look forward to carrying on a rich tradition within the insurance industry in India.

Company history

Yorkshire life assurance tables for India

Yorkshire life assurance tables for India


The Universal Life Assurance Company is established to carry out life assurance in the UK and India. 


On 15 February, the Northern Assurance Company, later part of the Commercial Union Assurance Company, appoints Messrs Gladstone, Wyllie & Co as agent in Calcutta, with Dr Macrae as medical examiner. On 15 May , the company appoints Walker & Co as agent in Madras (Chennai), with Dr Cleghorn as medical advisor. On 29 May, the company establishes W A Graham & Co as agent for Bombay (Mumbai), with Dr William Campbell as medical examiner.


The North British Insurance Company, later part of Commercial Union, commences fire business in India. By August, the company has set up local boards in Calcutta and Bombay.


In January, Commercial Union appoints Framjie Sands & Co as marine agent for India. In February, the company appoints D D Dymes & Co of Madras as its first fire insurance agent. Wallace and Co is appointed fire agent for Bombay while MacKinnon, MacKenzie & Co is appointed in Calcutta.


The Norwich Union Fire Insurance Society establishes an agency in Calcutta, under Messrs Kilburn & Co. North British & Mercantile begins to transact life business in India. Commercial Union now has marine agents in Calcutta. In December, the company’s replaces its fire agent, MacKinnon, MacKenzie & Co, with Borrodaile, Schiller & Co.


The Commercial Union marine agent in Bombay resigns and is replaced by Finlay, Clark & Co. Norwich Union Fire establishes a Bombay agency, under Messrs Fulcher, Cooper & Co.

Calcutta Branch

Commercial Union, Calcutta Branch, 1911


D D Dymes & Co resigns as agent for Commercial Union in Madras and is replaced, in November, by Arbuthnot & Co.


Commercial Union opens a branch in Calcutta for life and fire insurance. The branch manager is Mr C L Fyffe. The life insurance side of the business has such a high volume of business that the branch has to employ two medical Officers. North British & Mercantile opens a branch for India while the Commercial Union agency in Madras becomes a branch. It is a short-lived development and the new branch is closed after only one year.


The Indian Guarantee and General Insurance Company is established. It will later become a subsidiary of the General Accident Fire & Life Assurance Corporation.


The Commercial Union agent for Madras resigns and is replaced by J H Allan & Co. All business from Madras is now transacted through the company’s branch in Calcutta.

General Accident trade stand

General Accident trade stand, Calcutta, 1921


J H Allan & Co resigns as Commercial Union agent for Madras. The agency is replaced by Wilson & Co, who will continue to represent Commercial Union in Madras until at least 1887.


The Commercial Union’s agency in Bombay takes on life insurance business while the company’s marine agent, Finlay Muir & Co, is replaced by Wallace & Co.


The Commercial Union’s agency in Bombay takes on marine business.

Commercial Union Assurance

Commercial Union Assurance, specimen policy, c1880s


On 30 June, Norwich Union Fire and North British & Mercantile appoint Frith Sands & Co as joint agent for Bombay. In August, the agreement with North British & Mercantile ends and Norwich Union Fire appoints W A Graham & Co as the company’s agent for Bombay. The Northern Assurance Company appoints Messrs Best & Co as agent for Madras. The Northern is already represented in Bombay by Framjee Sands & Co.


The New Zealand Insurance Company, later part of General Accident, opens agencies in Calcutta and Bombay, the Scottish Union and National Insurance Company, later part of Norwich Union, appoints Ker, Dods & Co as agent for Calcutta.


The South British Insurance Company, later part of General Accident, opens a branch in Calcutta, under Mr A S Murray. The company opens an agency in Bombay soon after. Both undertake marine insurance.


Marine losses, including seven ships wrecked in a cyclone, lead South British directors to consider closing the company’s Calcutta branch. Instead, they decide to make India the headquarters of the Eastern region, with a head office located in Bombay. The manager, Mr Murray, writes to his superior, “The scramble for business has never been so great as it is today. This does not promise well for our future.”


In September, Norwich Union Fire establishes an agency in Madras under Messrs Leighton & Co, with David Edmund William Leighton as agent.


The South British offices in Calcutta are at 1 Lall Bazaar. The manager is Victor Murray. The company is represented by Mr A C Trapp in Bombay, with offices located at Sirdars Palaces, Apollo Street.

General Accident Office Staff

General Accident Office Staff, Bombay, 1910-20


Commercial Union establishes a branch in Bombay, under the management of John Reed. South British purchases a site in the commercial centre of Calcutta and erects a block of offices at a cost of £35,000. This is to be the new head office for the Eastern region. The company is now one of only two foreign insurance companies in Calcutta occupying its own premises.


South British begins to transact fire business in India.


The Commercial Union branch in Madras is re-established under Mr C J Spalding.


The Yorkshire Insurance Company, later part of General Accident, begins operations in India.


Norwich Union Fire establishes a branch in Calcutta.


North British & Mercantile acquires the Universal Life Assurance Company.

General Accident

General Accident, Bombay


General Accident appoints its first agents for India, initially transacting life and personal accident business.


In January, General Accident appoints two agents for Bombay, C H B Forbes & Co and J W Chinoy. In February, the company appoints Walter, Goward & Co as agent for Calcutta. On July 8, Norwich Union Fire replaces former Bombay agent, Dhirrunsey Caujee & Co, with Bhugwandass Visram & Co. In June, the company appoints Sullanally Mcherally Chinoy agent for the City and Island of Bombay.


Norwich Union Fire now has five agents in Bombay: Fazulbhoy, Mehieralli, Chinoy, Toolsidass, Tribhovandass and Wagji. Late in the year, the company adds Messrs D M Runchordas to the list. The company’s Calcutta branch now has eight agencies, including Pondicherry, Cochin, Malabar Coast and Tellicherry. General Accident establishes a branch in India, under Messrs C H B Forbes.


General Accident absorbs the Bombay Fire and Marine Insurance Company.


The Norwich Union Life Insurance Society establishes an agency in Bombay, under Mr O C Wimbush. In December, Norwich Union Fire appoints Binny & Co as agent for Madras.

Page from commemorative booklet

Page from commemorative booklet presented to General Accident General Manager, Francis Norie-Miller in 1927


In January, Mr Buchanan, who now runs the Norwich Union Fire branch in Calcutta, also takes charge of the company’s life office. In March, Mr C W Goddard is appointed assistant manager at the Calcutta branch, with an annual salary of 4,200 rupees. The board also grants him £50 towards the cost of a suitable outfit for his new position. South British is now the leading company in Calcutta in terms of volume of business handled.  On 14 January, the Ocean Accident & Guarantee Corporation, later part of Commercial Union, appoints Sir Jacob Behrens & Sons agent for Calcutta.


In July, Norwich Union Fire appoints Messrs Arbuthnots Industrials Ltd to replace Binny & Co as agent for Madras.  In November, Ocean Accident appoints Fleming, Shaw & Company as agent for Bombay.


Scottish Union and National appoints Govindjee Madhowjee & Co as agent for Bombay.


General Accident opens a branch office in Bombay, along with a sub office in Calcutta. Scottish Union and National establishes a head office in Calcutta.


The Northern establishes a branch at Calcutta to deal mostly with fire, life and marine insurance.


Lord Chelmsford, the Viceroy of India, appoints General Accident as insurance agent for the Viceroy. The company will retain its status for four successive viceroys.


The Indian Guarantee and General Insurance Company becomes a subsidiary of General Accident.


The India offices of General Accident are located at 50-52 Church Gate Street, Bombay, and 3 Council House Street, Calcutta. The local board is made up of Mr H M Bull, Esq.; Lt Colonel Sir James Roberts; Mr G M Rose and Nanabhai Talakchand. The manager is Mr L G B Gould.


Scottish Union and National opens a branch in Bombay. The first airmail service to and from India carries mail for General Accident.


The General Accident head office for India is located in the Bank of Baroda Building, Apollo Street, Bombay, with a sub branch at 7 Hare Street, Calcutta.


Scottish Union and National appoints a local secretary for Lucknow.


North British & Mercantile has offices at Clive Street, Calcutta and Hornby Road, Bombay.


The General Accident branch manger in India is Mr H G MacPherson. One of his staff, Mr S Y Sukthanker, has been with the company since 1914. The General Accident branch addresses in India are Apollo Street, Bombay; 7 Hare Street, Calcutta, and 1 Daryaganj Ansari Road, Delhi.


Norwich Union Life establishes a full eastern branch in India.


Life insurance business in India is nationalised and the government-owned Life Insurance Corporation of India (LIC) is established. Lala Singh retires from the South British Calcutta branch after 41 years service.


The South British Calcutta branch moves to Himalaya House.


Fire, marine and general insurance business in the country is nationalised.


Commercial Union sets up a representative office in India.


LIC’s monopoly over life assurance in India comes to an end.


Aviva enters the Indian market in a joint venture with Dabur India. Under the terms and conditions of the Insurance Act, Dabur takes a 74% stake with Aviva controlling the remainder. Following the rebranding of CGNU as Aviva, Aviva India is the first Aviva Group company to use the brand name. The corporate office is moved to Gurgaon,


Aviva India signs its first bancassurance agreement


Aviva India sells its one-millionth policy.


Aviva India signs the world's leading batsman and India's ace cricketer, Sachin Tendulkar, as its brand ambassador.

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