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JOURNAL OF INSURANCE.
I. STATISTICS OF FIRE INSURANCE IN New-York. II, LONDON Fire InsurANCE. III. FIRE
STATISTICS OF FIRE INSURANCE IN NEW-YORK.
Number of fires in New York, 1854—1860. Amount insured on property damaged and lost by fire. Amount paid for loss and damage by fire.
Amount paid No. of Fires.
Amount insured. for 1088 and damage. 1855,..
$6,064,260 Average of six years,. 334
1,010,710 With the exception of the year 1860, during which the number of fires was excessive, the return shows the normal regularity which the result of similar statistics in the Old World naturally led us to expect. The average number of fires per annum, as shown in the above table, is 334, from which 1860 differs by an excess of 63. The average in the years 1855—1859 is 321, and the greatest variation in any one year is reduced from over 15 per cent. to less than 7 per cent.
Column II. exhibits the amount reported as insured on the property damaged or destroyed by the fires. Taking the years from June, 1854, to May, 1860, as a basis, the amount paid is to the amount insured on the property as 27.96 : 100.
There are many interesting deductions which might be made from this table, though until much more detailed records are preserved, it will be impossible to reduce fire insurance to a mathematical basis similar to that which is now the groundwork of life insurance. The Fire Marshal is doing much, but his labors are not so valuable as they would be were the companies to publish a detailed report of the risks and losses of their respective business.
À rough estimate may be made of the amount of property insured in this city by assuming the amount of premiums on risks “ up town" and “ down town" as the total premium received for insurance in New-York. This was stated in Mr. Birney's “Assessment Report for account of Fire Patrol," as follows: 1859,
2,142,500 If we assume the average rate per cent. of all the companies and for all hazards to be 40 cents, then the total amount of property insured in this will be In 1859,
$ 549,091,750 In 1860,
The assumption here is necessarily wide of the truth, because the two districts do not embrace all the property insured in the city, and the supposed rate per cent. is quite as likely to be in error as is the valuation of the property. On the basis of these figures the amount paid for loss is to the total amount insured in the city as 2003836 : 100.
It need not be explained that the more numerous the risks the less is the hazard. If all the property in the world were insured in one office, and if fire insurance were founded on even as correct statistics as life insurance, there would be but little chance of pecuniary loss, as the aggregate premiums would be equal to the aggregate loss. The only reason for the rejection of what are denominated special hazards is the difficulty of obtaining a sufficient number; and an office which taking but a few might be unfortunate, would be perfectly safe in assuming a large number. The smallness of loss compared with the amount at risk, as shown by the preceding tables, does not lead men of comparatively small capital to the conclusion that they might safely insure themselves because they feel that what might be a small loss to a company would be a serious one to them.
Suppose A. and B. engage in a game of chance, and commence each with a capital of $100,000. If they bet equal but small amounts, the game is as even as such a game can be. But if we suppose that A. has a capital of $100,000, when B. has but $1,000, it will be obvious on a moment's thought that it is impossible for them to play an even game. Let the stakes be for $500 each. If A. wins, he increases his capital but by one-half of one per cent., but B.'s loss is fifty per cent. of all he has.
In another view it will be seen to be impossible for any game of chance to be even. If two persons, starting each with equal amounts, bet all they have, the winner doubles his capital, but the loser loses everything, and there is no manner of proportion between all and nothing. That only should be put at risk the loss of which would not be ruinous, or better still, not inconvenient. This last is what the payers of the two millions per annum to the insurance companies of this city do. They stake a small premium against the security of their property. If no fire occurs, they lose the premium; if a fire do occur, they win the amount for which they are insured.
The reason why the companies can afford to give such odds is, that they are-if I may use the term-betting with a sufficiently large number to get an average. It is an obvious conclusion from this that the larger the business of a company is, and the more extended the field in which it operates, the greater will be the security which it offers. A large conflagration in this city might be ruinous to a company which had confined its business, or a large portion of its business, to the district in which the fire occurred; while another company, which had taken a larger field, might lose an equal amount with no damaging effect to its security and prosperity.
The amount of insurable property in the world not being unlimited, it follows in theory that the fewer companies there are, the lower might be the premiums. And on the contrary, that the more companies there are, the higher the premium would have to be ; because, whatever the description of goods, it would be specially hazardous for any company to take but one risk. Almost no premium would be equitable in that case, but the same property might be insured for a trifle if the company, instead of having but one, had a large number. VOL, XLV.-NO, IV.
In this city, however, the rule seems to be inverted; the more companies we have the more the rates are reduced. It is understood on all hands that the present rates are much too low, and it is probable that they will not be raised to a paying standard till our dividends, instead of being reduced, are annihilated.
J. V. Y.
LONDON FIRE INSURANCE. The prospectus has been issued of the new insurance company, formed under the auspices of the committee of merchants, brokers and others, appointed at the great meeting at the Mansion-house, London, on the subject of fire risks, on the 25th July. It is to be called the Commercial Union Fire Insurance Company, and the capital is fixed at £2,500,000, in shares of £50 each. The directors are all persons occupying excellent positions in the trade of the port of London, and as the movement in favor of the undertaking was commenced prior to that of the “Mercantile,” already started, it would not be fair to complain of its introduction as a mere initiative effort to share the success of that scheme. Looking at the rapid increase of the property of the country requiring to be protected, there is probably an ample field for both; but it may be hoped that no further fresh ones will now be attempted or encouraged, at all events until it shall have been demonstrated that even the increased facilities now provided are inadequate for legitimate wants. The directors of the present company propose to take power to extend their operations to life and marine business, should it hereafter be thought desirable to do so.—London Times, August, 1861.
FIRE-PROOF WAREHOUSES. In a recent debate at Liverpool, Mr. GLADSTONE referred to disastrous fires which had recently occurred, and he suggested that it was worthy of consideration whether or not they had the best possible construction of warehouses. He also called attention to a suggestion, that in constructing new warehouses the buildings should be detached, even if the space between did not exceed a brick's length. It would also be well to consider the manner in which goods were stored in warehouses, especially with reference to the storage of inflammable articles with goods which were not so. Another underwriter was of opinion that there was great risk of fire from the dangerous trades, sail-makers, ship-chandlers and others, which were allowed to be carried on in warehouses. Saltpetre had been stored there, but it was in the vaults underneath the warehouses, and accessible from the street, and it was stored there with the approval of the associated insurance offices in London. In respect to the dock warehouses, it was said the iron columns were all filled up with concrete, so that, in the event of a fire, if the iron were to run like molteņ lead, the building would remain precisely as firm as before. There was no wood used in the building, either, except in the tea warehouse, and, as the whole building was arched, there was very little risk of combustible materials passing through from one floor to another, and so causing fire. The committee had lately been considering the question of having a steam fire-engine as used in London and New-York, and from the evidence which they had collected it was believed it would be useful in Liverpool
I. DECISIONS OF THE TREASURY:-CANARY SEED.-- Window Glass.-India RUBBER IN STRIPS.
HUMAN HAIR.-Tyriax Dye.-Caustic SODA.- TANNED CALF-SKINS.--YARNS OF THE Tow or FLAX.–TARE on SEGARS.-Swedish Irox. II. OATH OF ALLEGIANCE. III. REPUDIATION IN TENNESSEE, IV. COTTON IN NEW ORLEANS.
Treasury Department, July 6, 1861. Sir,- I have had under consideration the report of your predecessor in office, on the appeal of Messrs. ISAAC JEANES & Co. from his decision assessing duties at the rate of 10 per cent., under section 24 of the tariff act of March 2, 1861, on “Canary seed” as a non-enumerated articlethe appellants claiming entry thereof free of duty under the provision, in section 23 of said tariff, for "garden seeds, and all other seeds for agricultural, horticultural, medicinal or manufacturing purposes, not otherwise provided for."
Canary seeds are not specially provided for by name in any provision of the tariff act of 1861, nor are they used, it is understood, for “ agricultural, horticultural, medicinal or manufacturing purposes," but as food for birds.
The classification of seeds in the tariff of 1861 is the same as in the tariff of 1857, and it was decided by one of my predecessors that, under that act, they were to be regarded as unenumerated,” and, as such, liable to the duty therein provided for non-enumerated articles.
I perceive no just reason for changing that decision; and the assessment of duty at the rate of 10 per cent. is affirmed.
I am, very respectfully,
S. P. CHASE, Secretary of the Treasury. Wm. B. Thomas, Esq., Collector, &c., Philadelphia, Penn.
POLISHED WINDOW GLASS.
Treasury Department, July 6, 1861. Sir, I have had under consideration your report on the appeal of Messrs. Semon, Bache & Co. from your assessment of duty at the ratı of 24 cents per square foot, under section 17 of the tariff act of March 2, 1861, on “ Polished window glass, exceeding 10 X 15 and not exceeding 16 X 24 inches”—the appellants claiming the right to enter the article in question at the rate of 14 cent per square foot under the provision in the same section for “rough plate, cylinder or broad window glass,” of the same dimensions.
The decision of this question depends upon the fact whether the glass in question is “rough” or “polished.” “Presuming the article to be * polished window glass," as represented by the official experts who examined it, and not “rough,” as claimed by the parties, I am of the
opinion that the duty in this case was properly assessed; and your decision is therefore affirmed.
I am, very respectfully,
S. P. CHASE, Secretary of the Treasury. HIRAM BARNEY, Esq., Collector, dc., New-York.
INDIA RUBBER IN STRIPS, UNMANUFACTURED.
Treasury Department, July 8, 1861. Sir,—I am in receipt of your reports on the appeal of Wm. H. Hussey, Esq., from your decision subjecting to duty, at the rate of 10 per cent., under section 24 of the tariff act of March 2, 1861, “India rubber in strips, unmanufactured," as a non-enumerated article, the appellant claiming entry thereof free of duty under the provision in section 23 of said tariff for “India rubber, in bottles, slabs or sheets, unmanufactured."
In accordance with the evident intention of Congress to admit “India rubber, unmanufactured,” free of duty, I am of the opinion that India rubber, in strips, unmanufactured, may properly be regarded as coming within the scope of the provisions in the 23d section of the tariff of 1861, of “ India rubber, in bottles, slabs or sheets, unmanufactured," and that it is entitled to entry free of duty.
S. P. CHASE, Secretary of the Treasury. Hiram BARNEY, Esq., Collector, &c., New-York.
Treasury Department, July 8, 1861. Sir, I have had under consideration your report on the appeal of A. Lafore, Esq., of Philadelphia, from your assessment of duty at the rate of 30 per cent., under section 22 of the tariff act of 1861, on “Human hair” imported by him. The appellant claims entry of the article in question at the rate of 10 per cent, under the provision made for " Hair of all kinds, cleaned, but unmanufactured, not otherwise provided for," in section 19 of said tariff.
The decision of this question depends upon the fact whether the hair in this case is cleansed or prepared for use. From an inspection of the sample, and the opinion of official experts by whom the article has been examined, I am satisfied that it should be subjected to a duty of 30 per cent, under the provision, in section 22 of the tariff of 1861, of “Human hair cleansed or prepared for use."
I am, very respectfully,
S. P. CHASE, Secretary of the Treasury. HIRAM BARNEY, Esq., Collector, &c., New-York.
Treasury Department, July 8, 1861. Sir, I have had under consideration your report on the appeal of John SCHUMACHER, Esq., from your decision subjecting to duty, at the