Was the Titanic really unsinkable? The insurers obviously thought so, since, although the sum insured was around a million pounds (about a hundred times that in today's money) the premium was a measly 7,500 - about 720,000 at today's values. When it sank on 14th April, 1912, Lloyds of London was not a happy place.

1912 was not the best year to be in the marine insurance profession. The previous December the P&O ship Delhi, en route to Bombay had been lost in the Mediterranean; the King's sister, the Princess Royal, had very nearly lost her life after being swept overboard from a rescue boat after she had bravely refused to leave the Delhi until all other women and children had been taken off. Her daughter the Princess Alexandra was also swept overboard and had to be helped to swim to the shore by a passenger. The Delhi was, of course, insured at Lloyds.

The previous March the luxuriously appointed passenger steamer Oceana, also on route to Bombay, had gone down, this time in the Strait of Dover after a collision with a sailing ship, the Pisagua. The owners, P&O again, tried the sue Pisagua's owners but the court decided that Oceana was at fault, based on the accepted principle that steam should give way to sail. Lloyds was left to pick up the bills.

Under the familiar insurance principle of spreading the risks of few amongst many, Titanic, as well as her sister ship Olympic, had been covered by numerous Lloyds syndicates. Just as well. A new huge, luxurious ship was a total loss, and more than 1500 people died. The insurance claim was colossal.

All claims were settled by Lloyds in full within 30 days - at the time, one of the largest insurance losses in world history.

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