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interests of policy-holders may be promoted, but how they can be ignored and evaded." (P. 865.) • The truth “will out” sometimes. This is precisely what we told our readers more than six years ago. At least one of the editors of the Insurance Times abused us at the time for doing so, and many a time since. We had no objection to this, nor shall we in the future. It will be remembered that we gave a specimen on one or two occasions of the sort of courtesy with which the insurance organs treat each other, remarking that why should we blame them when they treated us not only as politely as they did each other, but incomparably more so ? Accordingly, we rather fee obliged to them than otherwise. If any of them said as naughty things of us, as what we are now going to quote, it will be admitted that they could not have said worse at all events. A long diatribe against the Insurance Monitor, which it seems has the temerity to pretend to rival the Insurance Times, commences as follows:
"Insurance papers, starting without capital, are conducted on a principle which combines some of the worst features of mendacity and swindling. They constitute some of the most transparent, and yet most successful, impostures in existence. Their editors are frequently men who have failed in the insurance business, and are too indolent or incapable to work or prosper at any other." (P. 496.)
If the writer of this extract had only the honesty to include his own luminary in the category which he describes, we would agree with him quite as readily as we do now in his estimate of his brethren. The editor waxes warm in true Billingsgate style, and comes to a climax as follows: “Hine's Insurance Monitor Weekly is one of these infamous sheets." (P. 496.) This may seem bad enough, but it is mild and gentlemanly compared to what follows.
Yet, as we have said, there is no one so fond of misrepresentation but that he will sometimes have to tell the truth. Accordingly we make no apology for placing the insurance luminary on the stand again for a moment, or two. No doubt he knows what an “approver" is, or one who turns king's or qucen's evidence, and we are willing to treat him with all the consideration due to that class of witnesses, when their testimony is duly corroborated, as in the present case. But let us hear the witness :
“ It will startle our good citizens to learn that on all the small and special risks in this city at least one third of the insurance is utterly worthless. It has not at its back capital enough to pay the smallest fraction of the risks it pretends to carry. A more complete delusion and flagitious cheat was never imposed upon the public.”—Insurance Times, Dec., p. 565.
It was a grievous sin on our part to say such as this; it was as clear as daylight that we had some abominable motive for doing so; but our insurance oracle says the same for the pure love of truth! There is a slight difference, however; the following will tell how :
“But whence are these companies without honesty or capital ? and who introduces them into this State, which boasts of an Insurance Department created on purpose to prevent the fraud they commit daily all the year round? They come from New-Jersey, Pennsylvania, Maryland, and various other States, and are represented, under the rose, in this city, by about three hun. dred brokers, most of them members of the Board, and many of them standing high in that fraternity." (P. 566.)
Just so. No insurance swindlers or impostors in New York at all; all that class come from the rural districts. Let everybody be good enough to remember that there is no “complete delusion" or "flagitious cheat”
among our metropolitan companies ! We look about a little to see how it is that New York has become so pure in that respect of late, and we find two of our companies spread over as many of the large quarto-pages of our insurance oracle. The “Home Fire and Inland" covers the whole face, or first page, except about an inch and a half at the top, occupied by the title of the organ, and the “ International Marine and Fire” fills half the last page and half the preceding one. Under such circumstances NewYork companies should, of course, be like Cæsar's wife; all ladies of doubtful virtue come from the country! Be this as it may, we ask, are the most serious charges we have ever made against a certain class of insurance companies fully corroborated, or are they not?
Now we have to say a brief word about the so-called Chamber of Life Insurance. We wish we could devote a whole article to it for the amuseinent of our readers. At its third annual meeting the Chamber, as first constituted, ended as it began its existence, in a cloud of froth. To this we can add, without fear of contradiction, and without making any claim to the prophetic gift, that it has ended precisely as we predicted three years ago. We need hardly inform our readers that Mr. Benjamin J. Stevens, of the New-England Mutual Life, elected as its first president, has never once presided-never attended one of its meetings; that sort of work he left to Mr. N. D. Morgan and the worthy officers who have aided him so well in making a laughing stock of the whole party. However, we are not without a Chamber; le roi est mort; vide le roi ! Morgan is dethroned, but we have Batterson in his place. Need we say that Europe and America, and Africa, too, might have been searched in vain for a more worthy successor? Let every body thank Guy Phelps for this. In future the worthy doctor's claim to a niche in a certain gallery will not rest exclusively on his tomato pills and his insurance wooden nutmegs.
It is true that three intelligent, shrewd underwriters, whose integrity cannot be impugned, have sometimes attended the meetings of the Chamber, namely, Mr. Edward A. Jones of the National Life, Mr. Samuel H. White of the Charter Oak Life, and Mr. Pliny Freeman of the Globe Mutual Life ; but it should be remembered that each of those gentlemen is very fond of a joke. It amused them to attend; and by putting in a word here and there they helped to amuse the public, by encouraging Morgan, Eadie, Bucklin, Batterson, etc., to make foolish speeches. But when new officers were to be appointed, on the 19th of November last, the three declined in turn to be nominated. Prof. Wright was declared Actuary-inChief; but that gentleman regarded his election as a doubtful honor at best. But with Batterson as president, Eadie as vice-president, Cole, of the Brooklyn Life, as secretary, and another member of the Morgan family (nominated by President Morgan, and “recommended from a respectable source ") as treasurer, everybody must be satisfied that the “Chamber" will prove fully worthy of its name:
We never see an elaborate eulogy in an insurance paper but we think there is something wrong; that the "assets" are in a deranged state; that “contested claims” have attracted too much attention, etc. And most people who think regard the matter in the same light. There are several of these suspicious rhapsodies in the insurance journals before us, some of them extending to three columns. As this is the size prescribed in the most desperate cases, we feel rather sorry. However, we will say nothing until the holidays are over; then, perhaps, the patients would be "smart": again, and not need our peculiar mode of treatment. In the mean time, we would respectfully remind them of the fable of the Lion and the Donkey. Young Master Leo took a great fancy for the company of a herd of donkeys that pastured some distance from the residence of his royal father; on his return he began to show his accomplishments, by braying at an immense rate, until the king of brutes nearly knocked the life out of him with a blow of his paw.
As to the existing controversy relative to the respective merits of the mutual and “mixed” life companies, we have nothing to do with it. Good, bad, and indifferent men belong to each, and, perhaps, nearly in the same proportion; and it is by the conduct and character of the men we judge, not by their rules or theories. Let us be only sure that the man is honest and trustworthy, and we do not care a wooden nutmeg, or a tomatopill, whether he be a “mutual" man or a “mixed" man.
It is certainly as agreeable to us to notice vindications as accusations, or recriminations; indeed, much more agreeable, when we know that the former are honestly received. That this is true of the vindications of the Knickerbocker Life, of this city, and of the Ætna Life, of Hartford, most of our readers are aware; for there are not two more honorable companies in the United States. Both, it seems, have been libelled; but those who do right bave nothing to fear in the long run; in nine cases out of ten truth and justice will prevail. The following manly statement from General Maury, of Virginia, speaks for itself, and we are sure that Mr. Lyman is generous enough to accept it as sufficient satisfaction for the unfounded statements made against his company. “ Editors of Rusk Observer :
" After consideration and investigation, I am convinced that my disparagement of the Knickerbocker Life Insurance Company, in my letter published in your paper last month, was altogether wrong and unjustifiable. All I can now do is to make this expression of my regret and acknowledgment of my error as public as was the assault. I will thank you to send a copy of the paper containing this amende to every agent of the Piedmont Company who may have received or read my letter, with an injunction to abstain in future from all disparagement of the Knickerbocker or any other designated company.
DABNEY H. Maury." The vindication of the Ætna comes from the New Dominion of Canada; this, also, tells its own story:
"Erna LIFE INSURANCE Co. As articles derogatory to this company have at various times appeared in these columns, which were written without a full knowledge of all the facts discussed, and would not have been published had we posscssed the data now within our reach, we feel it due to that company, and our own character for truthfulness, to state that we are not aware of any thing in the standing or business of the Ætna Life Insurance Company, which the public would have cause to distrust."- Daily News of Montreal, November 27th, 1868.
This is a much wiser course for those who make accusations without thought or knowledge, than to await the decision of a court. Alluding to legal affairs reminds us of a somewhat curious suit recently brought before
the Supreme Court of Chicago. Two parties claim $10,000, the amount of a "policy from the Manhattan Life Insurance Company. One of the litigants tries to cause the company to be appointed trustee; but the latter having quite enough to do besides watching for months, or perhaps for years, to see who is entitled to the money, pays the whole amount into court at once, so that as soon as a decision is made the successful claimant may receive it without any further trouble. Conduct so exemplary as this needs no praise.
Many of our readers will be glad to learn that the seventh distribution of the surplus funds of the New-England Mutual Life will commence in January next. Had not the termination of the company's fiscal year been recently changed from the 30th of November to the 31st of December, we should have had the annual report of Mr. Stevens before this; and we never read one of that gentleman's papers on insurance, which he has made the study of a lifetime without profit and pleasure.
It is from the Modern Athens we also learn that the Phønix Mutual Life, of Hartford, continues progressive in its eminently deserved prosperity. In their statement for the month of October—the last that has reached us—its Boston agents announce the following results:
“By comparing it with the October of last year, you will see that we have made this year an increase of 120 policies-$313,000 in insurance and $58,000 in premiums. We have already issued for ten months of this year 6773 policies, against 6811 for the whole of the year 1867, and have two months yet to spare. Had it not been for the excitement of election during the past two months, we could have made a still larger increase.”
This should be an encouragement to all who mean to pursue a straightforward course. We shall have an immense pile of annual reports to notice in our next number, including those of at least fifty new companies. Nay, according to the present ratio of increase, may we not expect that twentyfive more new companies will be “organized" between this and March next? It is sometimes said by well-meaning people that our State Superintendent should be a little more careful in issuing certificates; we have taken the liberty of intimating ourselves that he should abstain from praising new companies, at least until they get out of their swaddling-clothes; but it should be remembered that the worst of those companies with which Mr. Barnes has to do, are only blanks in some respects. Perhaps this will be best explained by an extract from Circular No. 40, addressed by the Superintendent to insurance officers, calling on them to hurry up with their annual statements, etc.
"You will please transmit the fees for filing the annual statement (fifty dollars,) by.check or draft, payable to the order of the Superintendent. Companies from other States and foreign countries will also remit five dollars for each agent's certificate of authority and certified copy thereof. In cases where higher or other fees or taxes are chargeable by the laws of a company's own State, the same fees and charges are payable to the Superintendent.”
Of course the laborer is worthy of his hire, and why should he not get it? We merely want to show that too much is expected from Mr. Barnes by those who think he is a little too ready with his "certificates of authority."
CONTENTS OF NO. XXXVI.