Εικόνες σελίδας
Ηλεκτρ. έκδοση

the German policies did not exceed $900,000,000. Our population being now considerably greater than that of either the United Kingdom, France, or Germany, it is natural that we should have a greater amount of life insurance policies in force; but we, in fact, appear to have more than three times as much as Germany, quite three times as much as France, and a little more than the United Kingdom, where the aggregate face value of the policies does not, probably, quite equal £600,000,000.

The whole amount of life insurance nominally given to the people of the United States at this time is estimated by a careful writer at $3,000,000,000, and this great aggregate is fast increasing. It is estimated that in 1887 new insurance was guaranteed to our countrymen at the rate of more than $2,000,000 a day, excluding Sundays; and it is probable that in 1888 the daily rate is $2,500,000.

Of all the provident institutions of America, therefore, the life insurance companies are the most important in their pecuniary advantage to those who profit by them, for there is no other class of these institutions which yearly pays $70,000,000 to its beneficiaries. But it must be remembered that life insurance has become a luxury and a sheet-anchor to the rich as well as a provident investment to persons of small means. A wealthy merchant of Philadelphia carries a life insurance of $1,000,000, it is said. There are many men in the United States who carry from $300,000 to $500,000; and in the city of Boston alone there are more than sixty men and firms that insure lives for more than $100,000 each. It is safe to estimate that 10 per cent. of all the life insurance in America is for the benefit of men of large wealth, and at least 20 per cent. more for the benefit of men who, at their death, will leave their family in comfortable circumstances, apart from the life insurance in their estates. Yet with these deductions there would remain an insurance interest of $2,000,000,000 for the benefit of nearly a million families, who, but for this provision, might be left poor at the death of the husband or father or brother who is the bread-winner of the family.

Viewed in this light, life insurance becomes a benevolent institution of the greatest interest to philanthropists and statisticians, fully warranting all the pains taken by the various State Governments to protect their citizens in the investments thus made. Most of the American States now require some report from life insurance companies doing business within the State limits, and impose certain restrictions upon their modes of insuring lives and paying

policies. A strict State supervision, however, is found only in a few States; and even there it may exist for a time, and then be relaxed or practically given up. It is only in about half our fortyeight States and Territories that life insurance has yet found any considerable development, although the "Insurance Year Book”that valuable publication issued annually by the New York Spectator - gives returns from some forty-five States and Territories. Thus the Territory of Dakota in the year 1886 made new insurance to a greater amount than the States of Delaware, Arkansas, Mississippi, and Nevada, and the Territories of Utah and Arizona. The little State of Rhode Island made more than the three States of North and South Carolina and West Virginia and nine times as much as Delaware ; while Connecticut made more than the three States of Alabama, Georgia, and Florida; yet Florida made more than Arkansas, Louisiana, and New Mexico. New Jersey insured more than Ohio, and Massachusetts almost three times as much as Michigan ; while Pennsylvania, insuring $18,000,000 more than New York, took $3,500,000 less in premiums, as reported. The proportion of premiums to insurance varies from more than onefifth in New York, and more than one-sixth in Massachusetts, to less than one-twentieth in Texas, and little more than one-twentieth in Kansas. In the whole country, in 1886, the proportion of premiums paid to new insurance taken was a little more than on seventh.— $94,053,037 in premiums to $620,777,774 in new policies and additions.

The policies in force at the end of 1886 in the whole country were 1,744,754, and the average ultimate value of each policy was $1,400. By the end of the year 1888 there ought to be 2,000,000 policies, or one for every thirty of our population ; but the average face value of a policy has probably fallen rather than risen above $1,400, because of the great increase of the so-called "industrial business," or the insurance of workingmen for small sums and at low rates. This business is also increasing rapidly in England, to judge by a single great company,—the "Prudential,”— which in 1886 had in its "industrial branch" premiums amounting to nearly $14,000,000 according to its report. The German Imperial Government, as is well known, has entered upon a course of compulsory insurance among the industrial classes, to secure them from dependence caused by accident, by sickness, and by old age; but, whether compulsory life insurance has yet been adopted there to any great extent, we are not informed. In England there exists


a scheme of government life insurance, which has been worked, since 1864, in connection with the post-office; but this is not compulsory, and is on a small scale. In the United States, no system of State life insurance exists, or is likely to be established; but the supervision and interference of the several States, for the protection of those who insure their lives in private corporations, is now quite general, and, on the whole, increases in stringency.

We cannot better conclude this imperfect preliminary report than by citing what is said in his first report by the newly appointed insurance commissioner of Kansas, Mr. Wilder, an official of great good sense, sincerity, and philanthropy:

Insurance should be classed with the sanitary commissions, the asylums, and the hospitals that distinguish our age from all that have preceded it. It is forethought and benevolence organized; prolonged by a corporation,- a body made by men to outlive men. There is a great gulf between the era when brute force was king and ruler and our own times, when common sense and prudence prevail, and the sight of human weakness is an incentive to pity and help, and not the cause of contempt and brutality. Insurance had its origin in common sense. When ten or thirty men in London had each a ship at sea, they had sense enough when they met at Lloyd's coffee-house to write their names under a contract of indemnity, by which they agreed to bear each other's burdens. In other countries, like dangers gave birth to like results, and the system of modern insurance was born.

Men do not organize life insurance companies or hold stock in them from motives of benevolence or philanthropy; but the results of their acts are hardly less beneficial to society than the relief given by the whole range of charities of Church or State and of private benevolence. This branch of insurance is also a growth, a system based upon the broad and settled facts of human experience, – the length of life, the value of money, the stability of society. It improves slowly, prudently, surely. There are men who tell you it is all wrong, that they have a new plan which will supplant it to-morrow; but it is as easy to supplant the multiplication table as it is to change the laws of life and death.

These facts are the commonplaces of insurance, known to all sensible persons. So good is its name, so grand is its work, that every modern land abounds in miscreants who steal its livery to serve the devil in. They take your money and promise to return it a thousand-fold in the event of fire, disaster, or death. Their promise is a lie; their treasury is bankrupt. In my very brief and

. imperfect administration of this department, I have every day heard the voice of the poor man and the poor woman who have been robbed by base and infamous wretches who promised, for pay, to give insurance. I should deem myself unfit to live if I did not do everything in my power to strike down the hands of these infamous men,- men who have betrayed and robbed the poor, the helpless, and the ignorantand to hand down their names for perpetual execration. It is not fit that Kansas should longer endure the shame of pocket-picking under the name of insurance.

As American life insurance grows and strengthens, these defects are thrown off, and neither Kansas nor any other State will long continue to suffer from the evils censured, while the benefits of the system will become every year greater and more permanent.

Rev. Dr. H. L. WAYLAND, of Philadelphia, who had undertaken to report on the Provident Institutions of the Hebrews in the United States, only found time to submit, with a few introductory remarks (dwelling on the care taken by the Hebrews to support their own brethren in poverty), the following communication from an official of the District Grand Lodge No. 2 of the Independent Order B'nay B'rith, at St. Louis, Mo. It was read without debate,

, , and the subject was recommitted for further report:


It is well known and universally admitted that the Jews were ever mindful to provide for their sick and needy, their widows and orphans. They considered this a sacred religious duty. Wheresoever a number of the dispersed sons of Israel congregated, they soon formed “Hebroth” (“fraternities") for these charitable purposes. There was, however, no organized union between the different local organizations, except the same deep feeling of brotherhood, strengthened by persecutions and sufferings, the same consciousness of that religious duty, commanded by the Mosaic law, repealed by their prophets, and inherited from generation to generation. When a number of the Hebrews had immigrated to these United States, coming from many different European countries, divided into as many nationalities, with various customs and rituals, the necessity was soon felt by them to break down those separating barriers, and to unite, regardless of those differences, for the purpose of aiding and providing for their widows and orphans, their sick and needy, at the same time obliterating the prejudices brought from the old countries, and preparing themselves to become enlightened citizens of this great republic and familiar with its parliamentary proceedings, etc. With this view, the I.O.B.B. (Independent Order B’nay B'rith) was organized about half a century ago. Far from any exclusiveness or any opposition to other non-sectarian, fraternal organizations, the members of the I.O.B.B. at the same time belong to the orders of Masons, Odd Fellows, and other such societies. Every B.B. Lodge was bound to establish a fund wherefrom poor brothers are to receive support in case of sickness and decent funeral in case of death; also, a widows' and orphans' fund, from which members' widows were to receive a quarterly stipend. This latter method was found inefficient; and, about eighteen years ago, when the so-called co-operative or assessment insurance became popular in this country, the said order also adopted such a system, if system it could be called. Every member was assessed at the death of a brother barely sufficient to raise one thousand dollars for the benefit of his widow or orphaned children. At first, this seemed to work so very satisfactorily that the order increased, within a few years, from fifteen thousand to twenty-five thousand members; and about half a dozen kindred Jewish organizations were formed, partly with a view to create new and similar insurance societies, partly from ambition and other causes. All, however, were purely charitable provident institutions, and emulated each other in doing good work. But none have been, so far, as effective in establishing grand humanitarian institutions, such as orphan asylums, hospitals, homes for the aged and infirm, libraries, etc., none have so high aims and aspirations as the I.O.B.B. It supports science and art, — witness the statue of religious liberty in Fairmount Park, Philadelphia ; it endeavors to come to the rescue of victims of persecution in foreign countries, and has lately established lodges in Germany, even in Cairo, Alexandria, and Jerusalem; and it has its own organ,- a literary monthly (The Menorah) of acknowledged high merit. It was also the first to recognize the crudeness of the original assessment system, and to establish reserve funds whereby its endowment institution is secured on a more just and enduring system. Unfortunately, the fallacies of cheap insurance are yet largely cherished among Israelites as well as other people, and they blindly join improvident institutions which promise impossibilities.

« ΠροηγούμενηΣυνέχεια »