Norwegian Hull Club (NHC) was established in 2001 through a merger between Bergens Skibsassuranseforening (Bergen Hull Club) and the Oslo based UNITAS Gjensidig Assuranseforening (UNITAS Mutual Association). Bergen Hull Club was established in 1937 through a merger of two old and distinguished mutual clubs, Bergens Assuranceforeningfounded in 1850 and Bergens Dampskibs-Assuranceforening founded in 1879. UNITAS was the result of a long series of mergers of in all eight mutual hull clubs, the last one in 1996, when UNITAS took over the portfolio and staff of Christianssands Skibsassuranceforening. UNITAS traces its’ origin back to 1837 when Skibsassuranceforeningen of Arendal was established. Thus NHC celebrated its 175 years anniversary in 2012.
Marine insurance had been offered for some time internationally before interest in establishing insurance institutions began to arise in Norway. However, the rapid growth of the Norwegian merchant fleet during the 19th century precipitated the establishment of a large number of local insurance associations in coastal cities. These were all mutual hull insurance associations. Several decades were to pass before insurance companies, which were also being founded at that time, began to accept marine risks. The mutual clubs were thus in a position to dominate the Norwegian marine market for a long time.
For many years the clubs remained reluctant to insure steamships. In Bergen, where the steamship fleet was growing more rapidly than anywhere else in the country, the problem was particularly acute and, in response, Bergens Dampskibs-Assuranceforening(Bergen Steamship Association) was founded. Thereafter, all the major hull clubs gradually began to accept steamships in their portfolios. Bergen's position as Norway's most important shipping centre during the decades preceding World War I gave the city's hull clubs a firm position among the Norwegian mutual hull insurance associations. Although Bergen's share of the Norwegian merchant fleet has since been reduced, Bergen Hull Club not only retained its strong position, but also improved it significantly.
A similar development was experienced in Oslo where an important maritime cluster developed. UNITAS was the major hull club in the east part of the country and through mergers also in the south part. After the merger in 2001, NHC became the only mutual association insuring ocean going vessels.
International and domestic development necessitated that the mutual clubs enter the international insurance market, and NHC is today an important international insurer rather than a domestic insurer for Norwegian flag vessels.
The Nordic marine insurance market (ex. P & I) is per 2013, the second largest, with about 10.9% market share of the global market. The latest statistics available at the time of printing this book is for 2013 and comprises hull, loss of hire, war, construction risks and total loss insurances. The market leader is UK (Lloyds 16% and IUA 5.8%). China follows third (10.4%) and Japan fourth (8.3%) trailed by Latin America (8.2%). There are no separate statistics available for the loss of hire market, but it is assumed that the Nordic market has a similar, or even larger, share of this segment of the market