Though the Insurance sector in British India was dominated by the British Insurance Companies, initially they were not at all interested to extend their business in the country. In fact, they did not like the idea of their clients visiting India, let alone to live there. The reason behind their reluctance was strongly based on the reports of the high mortality rate of the Europeans in the country.
In fact, they found it difficult to get used to the hot, humid and dusty tropical weather, the unhygienic living condition, untreated water and ultimately succumbed to death at a very early age due to the diseases like malaria, cholera and black fever. However, when Standard Life Assurance Company took up the challenge and flourished their business in Calcutta, the Oriental Assurance Company followed them and after those two pioneers, the Royal Insurance Company also made their presence on the field.
The Royal Insurance Company, formed in the United Kingdom in 1845 and long after the construction of the massive building of the Standard Life Assurance Company in Calcutta in 1896, the foundation stone of their Calcutta building was laid by Lord Carmichael in1916. The graceful building was designed by Edward Thornton and PWD architect William Banks Gwyther, who was behind the construction of many massive buildings like, the headquarters of the Calcutta Municipal Corporation, the clock tower of Calcutta Port and the Military Secretariat Building on Esplanade Row East.
The palatial building of the Royal Insurance Company was constructed under the supervision of JC Banerjee, who was the man behind the construction of the Hong Kong and Shanghai Banking Corporation building, located at the south-west corner of the former Tank Square. Nevertheless, the construction of the elegant building of the Royal Insurance Company was completed within two years, in 1918, at a cost of 50,000 Rupees.
Constructed in Edwardian style, the dignified building of Royal Insurance Company is located opposite to the GPO building, on the western side of the Tank Square (Dalhousie Square), at the corner of N.S. Road and Koilaghat Street. It is crowned with an elegant dome on its North East corner, though that is far more modest than the gigantic dome of the GPO.
The intricate designs on the outer wall, especially at the top of the main entrance opposite to GPO, are simply eye-catching and admirable. Apart from the office of the Royal Insurance Company, the building also accommodated other offices from its inception, which included the Manufacturers’ Life Assurance Company of Canada (1887) and Sandersons &. Morgans (Solicitors) and following the tradition, the nicely maintained building still houses multiple offices under its roof.