1791 - 1791

Queen Dona Maria I officialized the Regulation of the Insurance’s House of Lisbon, allowing the creation of new insurers

Queen Dona Maria I, through the charter of 11th August 1791, promoted a significant institutional change and the Insurance’s House became official, through the incorporation into the jurisdiction and inspection of the Royal Board of Commerce, of the office property of Broker and Insurance Provider of Lisbon. The positions are now exercised by means of a royal permission, and now they can be dismissed if the Crown determines it.
Through this ordinance, the 24 articles that formed the Regulation of the “new” Insurance’s House were made official, with slight amendments, which had been proposed and approved in 1758, but whose full ordination had not been allowed by the King.
State supervision at the insurance level began definitively with these regulations, which rendered null and void all acts of insurance which were not taken out by a person or company who was not entitled to do so. The validation of the insurance was dependent on what was registered in the books of the Insurance’s House and if doubts appeared in the interpretation of the clauses, there was the arbitration, and the appeal of their sentences to the Board of Trade.
By means of this law, the insurance is already a contract by which the insurer obliged himself to the insured, against a certain premium, to compensate him for a certain loss or damage resulting from an occurrence. The insurance contract became formal, giving rise to the so-called “Insurance Policy”, without which it would be invalid.
Also the interests of the insured started to be taken into account, because all the insurers who did not have partners could not leave the country without giving bail, as well as, in case of death, the successors could not dispose of the possessions without bailing out the insurances made.
This Royal License allowed the creation of private insurance companies, and in the same year the first Portuguese insurance company – Companhia Permanente de Seguros – was founded in Lisbon by three Lisbon merchants, with an initial capital of 60 contos de réis.


Document caption
Extracted from the book “Princípios de Direito Mercantil” by José da Silva Lisboa
Lisbon: Royal Print, 1815


Image caption
Detail of a piece of headdress by Queen Dona Maria I (A Piedosa)
“Colecção Lusitania” by José António Arez Romão (2000) – pág. 69