A policy is the written proof of an agreement between an insurer and the insurance holder. The oldest policies known date back to 14th-century Italy.
A policy had to comply with the law on points of date, names, object, sum, condition, term and premium. It always needed the signatures of both parties. In the beginning policies were written by hand and simply designed. The policyholder had to keep the policy safe, which is one of the reasons that policies were large, unique and made of special paper. In general, the actual policy paper was made in a way that it was something not easily destroyed or thrown away. They were seldom replaced, only when destroyed, for instance by fire. The policy always had to be handed over as proof of the agreement. These printed policies were also the showpieces of the company, complete with the logo and often beautifully illust
These days, with digitisation and a large number of administration taking place electronically, policies are hardly more than a piece of paper citing many conditions, but are rarely the pieces of art they used to be.
Luckily there are many examples of original policies in NN Group’s Historical Collection.