The oldest known portuguese insurance policy
There is unanimity between the authors of works on insurance history, that the oldest policy known in Portugal is dated 13th November 1770, registered with number 11397, whose risk was a shipment of merchandise from Stockholm to Lisbon.
It should be noted that this is the policy model that José Vienni, in 1758, presented to the Board of Trade with the project on the creation of the new House of Insurance. This policy was found in the Arquivo Histórico Ultramarino by Dr. Francisco Bettencourt, and published in the magazine Égide, April 1981.
“We, the undersigned, each for the amount declared in this policy, insure Paulo Jorge, from Stockholm to this city of Lisbon, in the amount of four contos de réis on goods which are now valued at the ultimate amount, worth more or less, and loaded onto the ship called Ostenbol, Captain Johan Siobiris, and this of ordinary damage, to take the risks on goods, or other effects, provided they are embarked to conduct themselves on board the ship, until they are unloaded ashore at the port of their destination; and, being on the hull and equipment of the ship from the time it takes the first anchor until after twenty-four hours it sinks in the port where the voyage ends. And these are the risks we take, from sea, winds, storms, shipwrecks, rocks, approaches, changes of defeat, voyage or ship, alienations, fire, prey, pillage, arrests of princes, declarations of war, reprisals and, finally, all cases deliberated and incited, except those of rebellion of the master, unless it is expressly stated in this policy.
And we oblige ourselves to all these risks on any other vessels on which the effects that are the reason for this insurance can be embarked, until they are unloaded on land, at the place of their destination. And in the event of shipwreck or sweeping we give full power to the said insured or to any other person to assist in the conservation and benefit of the insured effects, to sell them if necessary, and to carry at our risk their net income, and we bind ourselves to be by the accounts, being sworn. And in the event of loss, which God does not permit, from the day which is constant for us to one month, we shall pay this insurance at 98 per cent; and that of the breakages in the form expressed in this policy, subjecting ourselves to all the regulations of this House of Insurance, of which we declare to be fully aware. And we confess to having received the premium of this insurance at six per cent, according to our convention.
Lisbon, thirteenth of November 1770
800$00 Purry Mellish & Devisme, eight hundred thousand réis
1,000$00 Berthon Brothers, one contos de réis
600$00 Branfill Goddard & Cª, six hundred thousand réis
800$00 Lopes & Silva, eight hundred thousand réis
800$00 Illius Fiche & Illiia, eight hundred thousand réis
And I, José Puppo Correia, the insurance scribe, give faith to pass on all the contents of this policy and recognize that they are the insurers themselves who signed it. Lisbon, ut supra, José Puppo Correia.
This certificate I, above José Puppo Correia, of the original policy that is in my possession in this house, wrote and signed it”.
“A Companhia de Seguros Bonança – Notícia Histórica” by José Hermano Saraiva
The oldest known portuguese policy, is dated of 13th November 1770
Image extracted from “A Companhia de Seguros Bonança – Notícia Histórica” by José Hermano Saraiva