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Marsh & McLennan Marine Underwriters - GLMS 33

Introduction | Agency Sketch | Scope and Content | Series Description | Inventory


The 26.5 cubic feet in this collection were donated by Marsh and McLennan Marine Underwriters of Cleveland, Ohio on July 9, 1973. George Heiber of the Marsh and McLennan staff worked with Bowling Green State University to arrange this transfer.

Literary and property rights were dedicated to the public. Photocopying is permitted for conservation and research purposes.

 Agency Sketch

The Marsh and McLennan Marine Underwriters Company began in Chicago, Illinois during 1871 following the Great Fire of that year. Daniel M. Bowmar opened an insurance company to offer policies to new businesses springing up from Chicago's ashes. R.A. Waller joined Bowmar as a partner shortly thereafter. Bowmar retired in 1877 leaving his partner to run the newly named R. A. Waller Company. Henry N. Marsh was hired in 1885 during a period of rapid corporate growth.

Marsh and H. J. Ullman sold many of the policies into the late 1890s that made a financial success of R. A. Waller and Company. Premiums generated $500,000 for the company in 1896. R. A. Waller died in 1899 and left the business to Marsh and Ullman.

This company was well respected nationwide in 1900 and handled policies for Diamond Match Company, the National Biscuit Company and American Sheet and Tin Plate Company. Marsh moved to New York in 1901 to manage company interests including policies for J. P. Morgan's diverse business.

By 1904, Marsh and Ullman were expanding westward as well. Donald R. McLennan of Duluth, Minnesota relocated to Chicago to broaden his railroad insurance business. McLennan's experience with railroad policies led Henry Marsh and D. W. Burrows to seek his advice when they were offered the insurance account of the Rock Island Railroad. Familiarity with the accounts of the Northern Pacific and Great Northern lines made McLennan an excellent partner. In 1916, Burrows retired, leading to the creation of Marsh and McLennan.

Marine insurance was added to the business in 1905 when railroads insured by the company added ships to carry freight to Asia from San Francisco. Contacts in London with the Lloyd's insurers helped expand the business to international levels.

Further diversification occurred with acquisition of the account for A. T. & T. in 1910. In twenty years this account went from a value of $52,000,000 to one of $770,000,000.

Through the 1920s mergers occurred with large insurance firms in Minneapolis, San Francisco, Seattle, Atlanta, Philadelphia and New York. Nearly every major city in the United States or Canada had Marsh and McLennan offices.

Marsh and McLennan remained a private corporation until 1962. A need to acquire capital for further expansion led to the sale of public stock. Diversification continued into developing policies for offshore oil drilling operations and the aerospace industry.

The Marlennan Corporation was created in 1969 as a holding company to further assist in the growth of Marsh and McLennan. A consulting firm for real estate and one for computer design were acquired to provide access into new markets needing insurance.

At the time the files in this collection were donated to the Historical Collections of the Great Lakes in 1973, seventy-two worldwide offices had been established to mark one hundred years of growth beyond Daniel Bowmar's first Chicago business from 1871.

 Scope and Content

This 26.5 cubic foot collection includes the claims investigation files of the Marsh and McLennan Marine Underwriters company of Cleveland, Ohio for 1920-1973. Most investigations concerned vessels operating on the Great Lakes. Some pertain to St. Lawrence River or sea coast accidents.

Hull claims case files (26 cubic feet) form the largest series in this collection. The years 1921-1970 are represented in files that clearly describe the investigation into damage claims filed by vessel owners with Marsh and McLennan policies.

A series of personal injury case files records names of individuals injured in the accidents noted in series one. The disposition of claims is included with claimant names and amounts awarded for settlement. Researchers interested in mortality among marine employees can obtain data for more than twenty years (1935-1958) from notations on whether or not injuries were fatal.

Hull loss records for a few specific companies (see the description for series 3) are condensed reports useful for analysis of the economic impact of accidents on individual vessel owners. This series notes the common percentages for policy deductibles in effect for 1955-1973.

A broadly based, six-year analysis of claims paid is found in the insurance review files. Tables in this report detail the nature of claims paid to Marsh and McLennan policy holders for 1967-1972. A profile of accident types and monetary damages claimed can be developed from this small series.

Marsh and McLennan files for more than fifty years offer researchers a detailed view of the Great Lakes marine insurance business. The cost of vessel insurance and the damages resulting from accidents reflect a significant expense for vessel operators in marine transportation.

 Series Description


Arranged in file number order (chronologically)
Contains claims case files compiled by Marsh and McLennan Marine Underwriters during investigations of vessel damage. These files were prepared for insurance purposes to assess liability for parties involved in accidents or other incidents causing damage to vessels. Findings were presented in printed "Statements of Particular Average" prepared from the case file.
Case files could contain correspondence liability statements, survey reports compiled after hull inspections, expense records regarding vessel operations and other miscellaneous documents acquired in the investigation.

Arranged by claim number (chronologically)
Contains three bound ledgers recording injury claims made by crew members of vessels listed in above series. Vessel names and claims file numbers identify the vessel involved. The date and type of disaster are recorded. Claimant names, status of injury (fatal or not), amount of claim and whether the claim has been settled are recorded.

1920, 1955-1973
Arranged alphabetically by company name
Contains files documenting losses incurred by transportation companies when their vessels were damaged. These files contain ledger sheets listing the company, vessel, date of accident, amount of insurance policy, deductible and amount of claims paid. Correspondence and research notes also appear. Companies represented are the American Tug and Transit Company, the Buckeye Steamship Company, the Kerr Navigation Corporation, the Kinsman Transit Company, the Kinsman Marine Transit Company and the Sand Products Corporation.

Arranged chronologically
Contains reports reflecting damage losses to Kinsman Transit Company fleet vessels examined by Marsh and McLennan surveyors. Vessel names, accident dates, damage descriptions and claims amounts are listed.

Arranged by page number
Contains an analysis of paid claims over a six-year period, giving detailed accounting of what type of claims were paid, who was involved, and how much money was paid to claimants. The insurance of vessels is examined in a manner revealing the costs of claims paid by a leading marine insurer.


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