Eagle Star

eaglestar logo

Eagle Star Insurance Company Limited used to be one of the big names in the British life and general insurance market. Control of the company effectively remained in the hands of the same family from its inception in 1904 until its acquisition - and the end of its business activities - by the Zurich Insurance Group in 2005.

The company was founded by Edward Mountain and provided marine insurance in the principal British dominions. Quite aptly, therefore, it was initially called the British Dominions Marine Insurance Company. The fortunes of the company grew sufficiently for it to begin writing accident and fire policies in 1911 and life policies in 1916. Motor insurance followed soon after.

Edward Mountain was responsible for considerable expansion of the business and the introduction of practices that were truly innovative at the time - to give just one illustration, he set up an all-women department to deal with the company's female customers. Edward Mountain was made a baronet in 1922 and in 1937 arranged for the company's change of name to Eagle Star (reflecting the names of other companies - the Eagle, the Sceptre and the Star - acquired by the British Dominions Marine Insurance Company).

The founder Edward Mountain died in 1948 and passed on the business to his son, Brian, who continued the family tradition in much the same fashion. Brian Mountain had a son, Denis, who also started working for Eagle Star in the lowly position of post boy - a post boy who nevertheless became a full-time director of the company by 1965 and in 1967 its managing director.

Immediately after the financial crisis that hit British financial markets in 1973-74, Edward Mountain assumed full control of Eagle Star from his father.

Takeovers

Within seven years, however, Edward Mountain was facing hostile takeover bids from the German insurance giant Allianz.

This was fought off but Eagle Star was nevertheless eventually sold to the tobacco company BAT in 1984 for the sum of £968 million.

After the turn of the millennium, however, Eagle Star was acquired by the Swiss insurance company, Zurich Financial Services, and although the brand was retained, it has been discontinued.

Edward Mountain died in October 2005.

Landlord insurance

In many ways the heady days of such a traditional British insurance company as Eagle Star pre-dated the recent upsurge in demand for landlord insurance.

Although Eagle Star had expanded into the market for a wide range of general insurance products, this was before the days of buying to let and the need for insurance cover to meet the particular needs and requirements of landlords.

Eagle Star landlord insurance

In terms of insurance for landlords, therefore, the baton has effectively been handed on to Eagle Star's successor, Zurich.

Included in the latter's range of business insurance products specifically targeted towards small to medium-sized business owners of residential property.

Policies are available for up to 15 properties, providing cover against material damage and the legal costs of evicting squatters, and the option of extending cover to include loss of rental income, property owner's liability, and employer's liability.