325 years of Aviva

We’re immensely proud of our heritage and the foundations that have brought us to where we are today. As we celebrate the 325th anniversary of Aviva (and our associated organisations), at a time when change and adaptation couldn’t be more relevant, it’s a point at which we look back at just how the world around us has evolved throughout that lifespan. 

We’ve been taking care of people throughout our history. We live in the same streets and work in the same towns. We’re deeply invested in our people, our customers, our communities and the planet that is our home. Throughout that time, we’ve provided a safety net helping look after people in their key life moments, from times of crisis, through to helping them to plan for their future. 

“We’re older than fish & chips, Canada and the hot air balloon. We’re celebrating 325 years of Aviva and our heritage companies.” 

Over the past 325 years we’ve evolved alongside seismic changes in society – from creating a fire service to protect homes from the greatest risk they faced, to pioneering insurance products to pool risk across communities. We’ve helped millions save for retirement, save for rainy days, protect homes, livelihoods, vehicles, businesses, and are now at the forefront of ESG investing. In countless ways, across centuries, we’ve learned what it takes to help create brighter futures. You, our broker partners, have played an important role in that. 

The role of our broker partners 

A brief look into our archive demonstrates just what a large part our brokers and intermediaries play in Aviva’s history. Our companies have been working together for over 235 years. The earliest intermediaries were called agents and they promoted a particular insurance company in their local area, sold policies, and collected premiums and renewals in return for a percentage commission on the sales. The first of these worked for the Newcastle upon Tyne Fire Office in 1783.  

The majority of our agents, up to the early 20th century, carried on the agency alongside some other kind of profession. The 42 agents for Norwich General Assurance, listed in 1793, included 11 grocers, six lawyers, three drapers, two shop keepers, a surgical instrument maker and a medicine vendor. In 1821, twenty-four of Norwich Union’s agencies had fire brigades attached to them and by 1864, forty-five of them had their own fire engines (sometimes agents even acted as firemen themselves). Our agents have also included an ironmonger to Queen Victoria, the first man to drive a motor car without having a red flag in front of it, an England and Middlesex cricketer and a world-renowned actor.   

A proud history 

Our latest master brand activity showcases our 325-year heritage and just how much times have changed in our industry over that time. The campaign focuses on how the world is a very different place now, whether that’s the development in vehicle technology, renewable energy innovation or the impact of digitalisation. You’ll also note we highlight that we’ve been protecting SME businesses since 1840. We couldn’t of course have done this without your help and support and want to recognise this and thank you for being part of it. 

Our history is what makes us what we are today, but our focus is on striving for a brighter future for our customers and their communities, and you, our broker partners. Together we will continue to tackle whatever challenges are thrown at us and here’s to the next 325 years.