The Sun Fire Office, as the company was originally known, was a fire insurance company established in 1710.
Its founder was the eccentric Charles Povey, whose interest in astronomy may have influenced his choice of name for the business.The Sun Fire Office was one of the first companies to insure sugar refiners against fire. The highly inflammable nature of sugar made fire a very hazardous risk. The company used a symbol of the Sun as its fire mark. When it was cast and gilded the fire mark was affixed to every building that was insured by the company. A property was not considered secure until the mark was in position, and additionally it served as an advertisement for the company.
The period from 1720 to 1790 was one of rapid expansion for the company. By 1786 the Sun had a private firefighting force and over 120 agents in the provinces. By 1790 it could claim a dominant position among the nation’s insurance companies, with a gross premium income of over £100,000.
There followed a period of stagnation which the Sun survived by entering new types of business and expanding into new geographical areas.
In 1810 the firm became styled as the Sun Life Assurance Society.
In 1836 a special foreign department was created to handle foreign business. In 1907 an accident department was set up and the company entered the field of marine insurance in 1921.
In 1959 the company merged with the Alliance Assurance Co. to form Sun Alliance.
Today, the business is part of RSA, currently the second largest insurer in the UK.