About

Our History

In 1838 Cincinnati was a city in transition from a frontier town to a dynamic city feeding the growth of the American west. Its population was approximately 38,000 people. There were 6,315 buildings in the City, most of them located on or in close proximity to the river. The waterfront was a long row of two to four story frame warehouses. At any one time you would see a dozen wooden hulled boats docked on the riverfront. Cincinnati was considered the "The Insurance Center" west of the Alleghenies.

It was a time when insurance was a very risky endeavor. Marine insurance was the predominate insurance written. Now with the rapid growth of the city, fire insurance was becoming more of a necessity. Bankruptcies of insurance companies were a common occurrence. After the great fire in New York City three years earlier, sixty insurance companies went bankrupt.

In this environment, several fire insurance agents in Cincinnati felt the need to organize so they could promote sound fire insurance underwriting and rating in the city. This group lead by Ephraim Robins formed the "General Board of Fire Underwriters of Cincinnati " on April 18, 1838. The first president was a member of a prominent riverboat family, Jonathan J. Foote. Mr. Robins was the first secretary.

Since its founding, the Cincinnati Insurance Board has met a variety of needs for the insurance community in the Greater Cincinnati area. In the beginning the CIB helped stabilize the insurance marketplace in Cincinnati by promoting fire safety and working with insurance companies to accept risks in this area. Before the advent of rating bureaus, the Board set the fire rates in the City of Cincinnati and conducted fire safety inspections on building located in the city. This was also a time when there was little regulation of insurance. The Board provided oversight for ethical behavior and market conduct. They regularly took disciplinary action for those individuals who violated established principles and practices. The Board of Underwriters of Cincinnati was also instrumental in developing fire protection for inhabitants of the City of Cincinnati by working with the city to establish a fire department. In addition the CIB participated in organizing the Salvage Corps, whose function was to protect building and contents from further damage after a fire. The Savage Corps is now part of the Cincinnati Fire Department.

Over the years our officers and members have always been active in promoting positive legislation for the industry. We have had members testify before national Congressional Committees and State Legislative Committees. The Board has promoted a positive image of insurance since our founding.

During this  period we have used seven different names during the process of meeting the various economic, social, and business needs of the community. The seven names used by the Board in its  history are interesting because it represents the evolutionary nature of the insurance industry.

1838 - 1851    

1851 - 1897

1897 - 1906

1906 - 1917

1917 - 1938

1938 - 1960

1960 - 

General Board of Fire Underwriters of Cincinnati

The Board of Underwriters of Cincinnati

The Cincinnati Underwriters Association

The Fire Underwriters Club of Cincinnati

The Cincinnati Fire Underwriters Association

The Cincinnati Underwriters Association

The Greater Cincinnati Insurance Board

The Cincinnati Insurance Boards early records (1861 - 1992) are housed at the Cincinnati Museum Center's Cincinnati History Library and Archives. To see a description of these records Click here

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