Self Starters - The beginnings of mutuality

In the mid-nineteenth century new needs had to be met. Owners needed protection against their liabilities for loss of life and personal injury under the Merchant Shipping Act 1854 and also against the risks not covered by ordinary marine insurance. Because insurance could not legally be effected on a ship or freight beyond the value of such ship or freight, they needed protection for the amount by which the total of liabilities and damage incurred exceeded the value of an insured ship, i.e. excess collision liability. They needed protection against one-quarter of collision liabilities, which London hull underwriters excluded from their policies containing a 'running down' clause. As Lloyd's statistical committee discovered, the number of collisions at sea rapidly increased during and after the introduction of steamers. Unlike sailing ships, which were at the mercy of the winds, steamships steered a narrow course and were vulnerable to collision. Some shipowners were losing sleep worrying about possible ruinous claims on cargoes such as tobacco.

The first of the new mutual was established in 1855. Other associations followed, offering types of cover meeting the needs of their members, who shared the risks of claims in proportion to the tonnage of their ships. A new division of responsibility was emerging, with Lloyd's and the marine insurance companies covering ships and their cargoes while mutual protection clubs insured shipowners' third party liabilities. That the new protection societies were a version of the former hull clubs is shown by the continuation of their calendar. Many ships insured by the mutual hull clubs were laid up during the winter and the traditional date for starting to get them ready for the new sailing season was 20 February. This also became the first day of the insurance year, beginning at noon.

The year in which the United Kingdom Mutual Steam Ship Assurance Association was formed, 1869, was a landmark year in international shipping. The long-awaited Suez Canal was opened, shortening the sea route to India and on to the Far East. Old African ports yielded to enlarged ones in the Middle East, where ranks of  whitewashed coal bunkers rose.

What was to become known as the UK P&l Club was formed in comparative obscurity and for its first two years wrote hull and machinery risks. With the addition of other types of cover - protection in 1871 and indemnity in 1886 - and new management, it was to emerge as one of the largest Club’s in the International Group, in its 150th year the Club has offices and members around the globe.

From Mutuality ( the story of the UK P&I Club) published in 1995

1869

Foundation of  The UK P&I  Club

Opening of Suez Canal

Launch of Cutty Sark

Chairman of Club 1869-75   William Leetham of Bailey & Leetham

1870

– Tramp steamers such as the 700 ton – Ban Righ were typical of the first ships entered in the club

1885

Thomas Miller – a shipowner through the firm of Chapman & Miller was appointed Manager of the UK P&I Club

8th July 1892

The directors accepted the new tank steamer – Murex into the Club . The Murex was part of the fleet of M. Samuel (later Shell) The 3,564 ton Murex was purpose built in 1892 and the first bulk oil tanker to meet new regulations for passing through the Suez canal

1896

The  Club stopped insuring hulls due to diminishing business and focussed on pure P&I

1899

The schedule to the original pooling agreement of 1899 is an example of how the pool worked.

The UK Club joined with 5 other clubs in their first reinsurance link – a  Club pooling agreement!

1900

Over 1 million tons entered in both the protecting and indemnity classes of the UK Club

1909-37

Lord Walter Runciman  Moor Line takes over as Chairmam. Sir Walter Runciman was a Director of the Club for 40 years. He began his  career as a deckhand and founded Moor  Line.

4 August 1914

 World War I declared

15 August 1914

Panama Canal opens

11 November 1918

WWI ends -  9 million tons of British shipping, almost half the pre war fleet was lost during the war.
As the nation returned to peace, there was a demand for shipping of  all kinds, with congestion at Ports. There was also “an alarming increase” in the claims for cargo losses through pilferage. Another legacy was the loss of experienced seafarers, who in a time of no separation lanes knew their routes. Their loss partly explains the comparatively high number of immediate post-war collisions. Personal injury claims were also rising,

1924

Hague Rules  entered into force (formally the "International Convention for the Unification of Certain Rules of Law relating to Bills of Lading, and Protocol of Signature"). The  international convention sought to impose minimum standards upon commercial carriers of goods by sea.

1927

The passing in 1927 of the Longshoremen's and Harbor Workers' Compensation Act, for which P&l clubs through lawyers had lobbied the US Congress, led to a more equitable settlement in many cases and fewer undesirable lawsuits.

October 1929

The Wall Street Crash  of 1929 saw business fall off sharply with many ships traded at a loss or laid up

1939

By 1938  membership of the UK Club was still predominantly British, about 55 per cent by numbers of ships, but there was strong US (12%), and Greek (10%) presence in the Club.

1951

 The first reinsurance contract is placed on 20 June 1951, running until February 1952.

1955

In 1955, former trucking company owner Malcom McLean worked with engineer Keith Tantlinger to develop the modern intermodal container. The challenge was to design a shipping container that could efficiently be loaded onto ships and would hold securely on long sea voyages. The result was a 8 feet (2.4 m) tall by 8 ft (2.4 m) wide box in 10 ft (3.0 m)-long units constructed from 2.5 mm (0.098 in) thick corrugated steel. The design incorporated a twistlock mechanism atop each of the four corners, allowing the container to be easily secured and lifted using cranes. After helping McLean create the successful design, Tantlinger convinced him to give the patented designs to industry; this began international standardization of shipping containers.

1963

Fire on the Lakonia cruise ship.

1967

UK P&I Club reaches 30 million entered  tons

TORREY CANYON ran aground on the Scilly Islands (SS Torrey Canyon was an LR2 Suezmax class oil tanker with a cargo capacity of 120,000 tons of crude oil. She was shipwrecked off the western coast of Cornwall, England, on 18 March 1967, causing an environmental disaster. At that time she was the largest vessel ever to be wrecked)

1969

The United Kingdom Mutual Steam Ship Assurance Association (Bermuda) Limited was established.

1972

9 January 1972 Seawise University, the former Queen Elizabeth was destroyed by fire in Hong Kong

1974

UK Club chosen as first non-Chinese P&I insurer for COSCO. Longest standing P&I relationship in China.

1979

19 July 1979 Atlantic Empress – collided with the oil tanker Aegean Captain in the Caribbean, and eventually sank, creating the largest ever marine oil spill.

1979 Hague-Visby Rules

1989

UK Club Japan Branch opened in Tokyo.

1989

Exxon Valdez oil spill occurred in Prince William Sound, Alaska, 24 March 1989. In response to the spill, the United States Congress passed the Oil Pollution Act of 1990 (OPA).

In the late 1980s and throughout 1990s the Club began a regionalization of the claims and advisory service offered to Members. At the time, this was  a ground-breaking initiative taking the service to the club member time zone to better understand and manage the risks. 

1990

Sunderland P&I Club incorporated into the UK P&I Club

1992

Civil Liability Convention (1992 CLC).

1994

In 1994 the Club celebrated its 125th Anniversary... download the 125th Anniversary edition here

1995

Thomas Miller Americas was established and opened an office in New Jersey.

1996

Thomas Miller (Hellas) was set up in Piraeus in to provide an active representative base for liaising with Members.

The pre-employment medical scheme (PEME) was established in 1996. The first of its kind amongst the International Group of Clubs.

1998

Offices in Beijing and Shanghai are opened. Today, the Club’s global presence spans 100 countries.

1 July 1998 International Safety Management (ISM) Code.

2000

The new millennium.

2004

2004 ISPS code comes into effect.  The International Ship and Port Facility Security Code (ISPS Code) is a comprehensive set of measures to enhance the security of ships and port facilities, developed in response to the perceived threats to ships and port facilities in the wake of the 9/11 attacks in the United States.

26 November 2004 Athos I struck a large anchor submerged in the Delaware River. The impact punctured the tanker’s hull leading to an oil spill.

2007

In 2007, UK Club (Europe) was  established

2008

UK Club raises $100 million of new capital through Hybrid Capital – a first for Mutuals.

2011

UK P&I Club’s PEME Programme passes the quarter million seafarer medicals.

2013

The Club launches its iPandi app. An innovative app which allowed Members to access online claims and underwriting data in real time. 

June 2018

UK Club launches Investing in a Safer Tomorrow competition aimed to encourage those at the start of their maritime career to develop innovative, industry changing ideas with a focus on improving safety at sea.

March 2019

UKNV subsidiary opened in Rotterdam

2019

As a leading provider of P&I cover and related services, the Club insures over 240 million tonnes of owned and chartered ships globally.

Emergency Contacts


If you need to call our offices out of hours and at weekends, click After Office hours for a up to date list of the names of the Duty Executives and their mobile phone numbers. 

Ship Finder


This Ship Finder is updated on a daily basis. Members who need to advise the Club of updates to their recorded ships' details should advise their usual underwriting contact.

You are currently offline. Some pages or content may fail to load.