The Grinnell Mutual bell

The Grinnell Mutual bell

The insurance industry doesn’t immediately jump to mind when considering Great Britain’s vast history, which is steeped in tradition and symbolism. But the story of the Lutine Bell is an interesting exception.

In 1779, a 32-gun French ship named Lutine was launched at the military port of Toulon. The British eventually captured and rebuilt the warship and inducted her into the Royal Navy as HMS Lutine, only to lose the craft off the stormy Dutch coast in 1799. The HMS Lutine was carrying a large shipment of gold and silver, insured by Lloyd’s of London, a British mutualized insurance marketplace. Although the majority of the cargo was never recovered, the claim was paid in full and Lloyd’s preserved the ship’s salvaged bell, now used for ceremonial purposes at its headquarters in London.

Honoring the past and the present

To honor the significant history and purpose of the bell, Grinnell Mutual affixed its own replica just outside the doors of the Grinnell Re offices. The bell provides a nice visual connection to the British company. It's a symbolic tie to Lloyd's of London, where we have placed a majority of our reinsurance.

Since the 106-pound bell was suspended in Lloyd’s underwriting room, it has traditionally been struck on the arrival of news of an overdue ship — once for a ship’s loss and twice for her return good news. It was a way to ensure that all brokers and underwriters were made aware of the news simultaneously. It’s also been rung to acknowledge significant occasions, from royal news to notable deaths.

Although the Grinnell Re bell doesn’t have the weighty history of the Lutine Bell, members of the Reinsurance team ring the bell when there’s good news — it means another mutual insurance company has joined the Grinnell Mutual family.