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1901–1906, the actuary recommended certain changes in view of an increasing deficit, but the society refused to give them favorable consideration.
Owing to the fact that membership in these societies is voluntary, and that they are partially dependent on voluntary contributions from outside sources, it is doubtful if their resources would be sufficient to meet an unusual strain, such as might arise from an accident causing the death of a large number of persons or from a prolonged period of industrial depression. It would enhance the stability of the societies if some plan of reinsurance of risks on a broader basis could be devised. For this purpose meetings of representatives of the societies were held in 1878 and in 1880, which resulted in the organization of the Central Association for Dealing with Distress Caused by Mining Accidents. Since then this association has been joined by all the permanent relief societies, and has been active in promoting the welfare of the societies in many ways. Soon after its organization the society commissioned Mr. Neison to formulate a plan for the reinsurance of risks. The plan which he presented applied to fatal accidents only and provided for the assessment of sums varying between 6d. and 2s. (12 cents and 49 cents) per year on each member, the amount being graduated according to the risk in the various districts. Out of the fund arising from these assessments should be paid to any society the sum of £100 ($486.65) per death for accidents in which more than five deaths occurred. Though approved in principle, for a variety of reasons the plan was never put into force. Another effort of the Central Association has been directed toward securing for the societies the surplus of those funds which have been contributed by the public on the occasion of great mining catastrophes. Several of these funds have proved to be in excess of the amount required to provide for the dependents of the victims and have left amounts of various sizes, which the trustees of the funds have generally turned over to infirmaries or other institutions for the benefit of miners. It is claimed by the permanent relief societies that it would be a more rational procedure to maintain the surplus of the fund intact and apply the earnings to insuring miners against similar accidents in the future.
ORDINARY LARGE SOCIETIES.
A more generalized class of societies is that designated in the report of the commissioners in 1874 as “Ordinary large (or general) societies." These are described as offices for life and sickness insurance, "doing business over the counter” of the home or central office, and devoid of practically all the personal and social features that are associated with the ordinary friendly society. Dues are transmitted to the central office by collectors appointed by the central office; or such intermediaries may be dispensed with, the members transmitting their dues direct. In some cases unrecognized agents, acting for the members, collect and transmit payments. Where no agents are employed, advertising must be relied upon to secure new members, and the chief inducement to be offered is that of cheapness. The commissioners found that the claim of low cost of management was well substantiated in the best of these societies, their expenses for this object being as little as 6 per cent of the total expenditures in an instance noted. Such societies occupy a middle ground between the societies with social features and ordinary insurance companies. There is a formal measure of control in the hands of the members, but the difficulties attendant on the satisfactory ascertainment of their opinions are so great that the management is practically in the hands of a committee. This is chosen by an annual meeting, open to delegates from each group of members, but being always held in the home city only a very small and much localized proportion of the membership is usually represented. Some of these societies enjoy deservedly good credit, however, and show a prosperous growth.
An example of this class of societies is the Hearts of Oak Benefit Society” of London, organized in 1842. The policy of this society has not been uniform in respect of the requirements as to membership, either as regards the classes of persons eligible or the amounts of contributions to be paid. While there was a considerable growth during the early decades, extensive changes in the rules and management were made in 1863, which resulted in the rapid popularization of the society, as is shown by the growth that followed. In 1877 restrictions as to amount of wages and nature of employment were incorporated into the rules, which caused something of a reduction in the number of applicants for membership. These restrictions were for the most part eliminated after a trial of ten years, but in 1894 it was decided not to admit miners, and a minimum wage of 24s.($5.84) weekly was adopted (provisions which are continued to the present time), though persons entering from the juvenile section of the society are exempt from the wage qualification. Candidates for membership must be over 18 and under 30 years of age and in good health, and after twelve months' membership they become free, i. e., entitled to full benefits, though proportionate amounts are allowed in cases of sickness or death occurring before the end of the year. The benefits granted consist of sick relief, residence in convalescent homes, birth allowance, death allowance for members or members' wives, allowance for imprisonment for debt, relief in distress, and insurance against loss of tools by fire. The entrance fee is 2s. 6d. (61 cents), with a uniform rate of 7s. ($1.70) per quarter for the sick fund, and a levy according to outgo for other benefits and expenditures. The quarterly contributions average below 10s. ($2.43), the highest rate in 20 years being 9s. 104d. ($2.40) per quarter in 1907 and 1908, and the lowest, 9s. 4£d. ($2.28) in 1904. The sick benefit is 18s. ($4.38) per week for the first 26 weeks, 9s. ($2.19), for the next 26 weeks, and not more than 4s. (97 cents) per week (and relief from payment of contributions) for any further continuance of the same illness. Death benefit for a free member is £20 ($97.33), and for a free member's wife £10 ($48.67). The lying-in benefit is £1 10s. ($7.30), and the insurance of tools not to exceed £15 ($73). Members imprisoned for debt are allowed 5s. ($1.22) per week for a limited period. About 50 convalescent homes are available in different parts of the country. Other benefits are subject to arrangement. Aged or afflicted members may upon application withdraw from the society and will receive for their interest such amount of compensation as the executive council may determine.
The society has grown constantly, though not at a uniform rate, both in membership and funds. The table presented below shows the growth of the society by decades, since its origin.
GROWTH OF MEMBERSHIP AND FUNDS OF HEARTS OF OAK BENEFIT SOCIETY, BY
1852. 1802 1872. 1892 1892 1902,
2,180 $10,395 9,010 121, 801 32,837 456, 672 98,873 2,721,905 168.732
6,352, 113 265, 536 12,911,732
The facts as to membership and funds are shown below more in detail for the years 1903 to 1908.
MEMBERSHIP OF THE HEARTS OF OAK BENEFIT SOCIETY, 1903 TO 1sc8.
(Source: Sixty-seventh Annual Statement of the Hearts of Oak Benefit Society, p. 30.)
Members at end
6,770 6,947 4.970 5, 253 5,398 3,661
272, 441 279.391 281.361 239.614 294,740 298, 404 AMOUNTS PAID BY THE HEARTS OF OAK BENEFIT SOCIETY FOR VARIOUS FORMS
INCOME, EXPENDITURES, AND RESERVE FUND OF THE HEARTS OF OAK BENEFIT
SOCIETY, 1903 TO 1908.
a According to the data given, this sum should be $17,055,311; but the amount is reproduced as found in the source quoted.
O According to the data given, this sum should be $575,425; but the amount is reproduced as found in the source quoted.
The first of the following tables shows the actual sums disbursed for each form of benefit in each year, 1903 to 1908, while the second shows the proportionate and the third the per capita cost of each form of benefit for a term of twenty years:
OF BENEFIT, 1903 TO 1908.
(Source: Sixty-seventh Annual Statement of the Hearts of Oak Benefit Society, p. 31.]
Sick pay, Reduced Lying-in
Conra- Contining oned
lescent mem- debt
homes. fund. bers. ors.
tools by fire.
1903. 1904. 1905 1900. 1907 1908.
$1,356,367 $125,979 $228, 472 $193,030 $66,019 $4,701 $9,183
1,487,835 144,535 231,782 202,247 71,450 4,283 | 10,867
249,729 6,764 4,774 0,902
$161 2,170 4,862 5,085 7,076
PER CENT OF EXPENDITURES APPLIED TO VARIOUS PURPOSES BY THE HEARTS OF
OAK BENEFIT SOCIETY, 1889 TO 1908.
PER CAPITA COST OF ANNUAL DISBURSEMENTS BY THE HEARTS OF OAK BENEFIT
SOCIETY, 1889 TO 1908.
& According to the data given this sum should be $9.18, but the amount is reproduced as found in the source quoted.
The contingent fund shown in the first table of the above group of three is of recent establishment, and is provided by a special contribution of a penny (2 cents) per member per year as a separate fund to be used for the purpose of assisting members in distress.
No provision is made for superannuation, properly speaking, though the arrangement by which aged or afflicted members may receive a lump sum in exchange for accrued rights to funds slightly