History of BII

At a meeting of Insurance Managers on 20th October 1887, it was proposed "to form an Insurance Institute in the town" of Birmingham. A further meeting took place at the Grand Hotel, Birmingham on December 2nd 1887 to elect Officers and a Council. Thomas Sutton (Lancashire Fire and Life) was elected President and chaired the Inaugural Meeting on January 27th when the objects of the Institute were agreed:

1. To disseminate knowledge of the principles of Insurance amongst those engaged in the business.

2. To encourage social intercourse between the members of the profession.

The first paper ever presented to the Institute was by J Headon Boocock (Commercial Union) on February 24th 1888 and was entitled "British Insurance Offices, their power and influence".

By the 1891/2 session the Institute comprised a Council (including Officials) of 13 and a membership of 74 plus 38 Associates.

The recently formed Federation of Insurance Institutes of Great Britain and Ireland held its Annual Conference in Birmingham in 1898 when Frank Dalton (Norwich Union) was elected President. By 1899 the Federation was holding examinations and granting certificates to those reaching a proper standard. Locally, regular lectures and visits to various types of risk were arranged to support the Syllabus together with classes conducted by member of Council and other senior members. In 1909 a prize scheme was introduced for Birmingham members and is still in existence today, albeit suitably modified to refect the constantly-evolving examination structure.

The Federation held another Conference here in 1907 when the Institutes of London, Liverpool, Belfast and Cardiff were admitted. A Charter Committee was set up which eventually led to a Charter being granted to the Insurance Institute of Great Britain and Ireland in 1912. By this time our institute membership had risen to some 300 but this increase was brought to an abrupt halt by the war in 1914.

In 1919 we admitted the first ladies into membership of the BII and a ladies' sub-committee was formed in 1925. Three years later the first female member of Council (Miss M Rose - Century) and in 1966 our first female President (Miss B S Stackhouse - Royal Exchange) were elected.

Five years after the CII held its Annual Conference here in 1922, it was agreed to set up Centres attached to the BII and Shrewsbury, Wolverhampton, Worcester, Stratford-upon-Avon and Coventry were formed. These Centres ultimately became independent Local Institutes in 1950 when the CII adopted a new Charter. Sadly, the changing marketplace has seen both Worcester and Wolverhampton close as separate institutes with their members returning to the BII.

To recognise our Golden Jubilee in 1937 the CII again held its Annual conference here when its theme was "the educational needs of the younger generation". They returned in 1956 when our Vice President G K Greening (Beacon) became CII President. His father, H J Greening (Abstainers & General) had been CII President in 1933; they remain the only father and son to be CII Presidents.

After the Second World War the BII rebuilt and reflected the worldwide social, political and economic changes taking place. Among many changes too numerous to specify, a Young Members Committee was set up in 1955 and at the end of the age spectrum, the Association of Retired Insurance Staffs was formed in 1976. The former continues to flourish but the latter sadly disbanded in the 1990s. We have always tried to remain true to our original objectives in all our activities.

Our Centenary Year in 1987/8 was a great success with a wide range of formal and informal events involving hundreds of members from all professional disciplines within our industry and encompassing all age groups.

The years since have tested our ability to change rapidly in a market becoming ever more global and subject to increasing regulatory scrutiny. The fact that we still exist with an even larger and more diverse membership is testimony to the strong history we have inherited. We celebrated our 125th Anniversary in 2012 when marked another milestone in our development as one of the founding members of what became the Chartered Insurance Institute.