An Insurance Expert on Fire-Waste.
E. G. Richards, manager of the North British and Mercantile Fire Insurance company, in an address recently delivered before the meeting of the Fire Underwriters’ Association at Chicago, took up among others, the subject of fire-waste. He suggested as one means of prevention having recourse to the methods followed in many parts of Europe, which makes the property owner severely responsible for any fires which occur on his own premises. In this way he thinks that “one vital, perhaps preeminent, cause of our immense fire-waste, will be reached, because moral hazard and carelessness will be practically eliminated and a greater incentive then exist than now for better and safer buildings. This work cannot be accomplished by the insurance companies. The strong arm of law is the only effective force which can be employed successfully to this end.” He, therefore, favored and considered practicable tbe exactment of a law which would permit tbe issuing party to “collect from bis insurers, in case of fire originating upon his own premises (except from known cause beyond his control) not more than 50 per cent, of his loss; and, if such fire extended to the property of others, whether tenants in tbe same building or property adjoining or exposed by his premises, that he could then collect from his insurers only such proportion of his own loss as the amount of loss and damage to his own property bore to the loss upon all property involved. The law could permit certain exceptions: If, in the case of a mercantile house, manufacturer, or other property owner, it could be shown to the authorities that larger protection from insurance was essential, exemption in all or part could be given by special authority, such exemption being listed, published, and kept on file with the police and fire marshal. The enforcement of some such law would reach the primary causes of the larger part of our annual fire loss. The passage of better building laws would be easy of accomplishment: the fire marshal would be in large demand: tbe insurer be certain to sec that bis building was made safe: that vertical and side-openings were effectually protected by approved devices, watchfulness against carelessness of every kind would be vastly increased, and every appliance for extinguishing fires—from the automatic sprinkler to tbe firepail—would be brought into service. In this country a premium is placed upon carelessness, indifference, and, worse than either, incendiarism. bv the lack of thorough investigation into the origin of fires and the case with which fire insurance is collected, after a fire has occurred.”
Those who have tbe opportunity for making a trustworthy forecast believe that the underwriters’ fire loss in the Metropolitan district for 1908 will not fall much, if any. below $15,000.000. which, on the present basis of income and expense ratio, will entail a net loss on underwriting operations in that territory.
Press reports from Findlay, Ohio, say that, as a result of l ire Chief Mcaley signing a petition for local option in Upper Sandusky, the entire fire department has resigned. The resignations will not take effect until November 1. The men claim that because the town has voted dry and will he without the saloon tax, their salary will no be forthcoming.