LIFE INSURANCE FOR FIREMEN.
Life insurance has, because of its successful prosecution for generations, come to be regarded as one of the most beneficent institutions of the age.” It has ceased to be experimental in its methods, for these have been reduced to mathematical certainties. Life insurance is not a luxury, for the wealthy to indulge in. A man having plenty of capital does not need life insurance, for, if he is engaged in successful business enterprises, he can, generally, invest his money in his business and secure greater profits than are to be obtained in life insurance. But it is essentially a necessity for the poor man, especially for him who has a wife, children, or other kindred dependent upon him for support, and must rely upon his daily earnings for the means with which to supply their wants. The compensation he receives is barely sufficient to supply his family with the necessaries of life and properly educate his children. As he looks forward to the time when, deprived of _his labor, his children and his widow may be left wholly unprovided for, and compelled to go into the labor market and work for such compensation as is given to women and children, the prospect is not pleasant to contemplate. Whatever provision he is able to make for them must come from the savings he is able to make from his earnings. How to invest those savings so as to bring the greatest returns at the moment they are most needed, is a problem that presents itself to the mind of every working man who appreciates his responsibilities towards his family. Savings banks have been established for the encouragement of this class, but what with the failures ol savings banks, dishonesty in their management, and unfortunate speculations by their managers, he has been a fortunate man if he has secured a return of the amount he has deposited with them without saying anything about the amount of interest his money should have earned him.
Considering this question of taking care of the savings of poor men so that they shall bring the greatest amount of returns to the depositor (or his heirs), it is conceded that life insurance offers, by all odds, the greatest inducements. A life insurance policy brings dividends to him who pays the premiums largely in excess of the rates of interest paid by savings banks, and, at the same time secures to his heirs a far larger sum in the event of his death. The fact being conceded that every prudent man will insure his life for the benefit of his family, it becomes a question as to where he will get such insurance. The regular life insurance companies offer, to those who can afford to pay the premiums charged and are positively sure that they can make their payments promptly at the time designated in their policies, unquestionably greater inducements than any other plan, inasmuch as.they pay dividends during the lile of the insured, and the sum named in the policy in case of his death. But the great trouble has been that the policy, or contract, has been all in favor of the companies. For intance, most of them are so worded that if the insured, from any cause, neglects to pay his premium on the day named, his policy is forfeited, and all the premiums that he had previously paid. Such a monstrous evil had this grown to be that the law, in some States, stepped in and said that policies should not be arbitrarily forfeited in this way, but that the companies must settle equitably with the premium-payer. Nevertheless, the abuse has not been entirely corrected, and the statistics show that out of every one hundred persons who take out policies of insurance only ten of them derive any benefit whatever from life insurance. The other ninety persons in the hundred, after carrying their policies for a time, find themselves unable to pay the premiums, and so permit their policies to lapse. For this, and other reasons, the public has grown suspicious of regular life insurance companies, and has been seeking other means lor accomplishing the same object. In fact, the companies themselves have been studying how to reduce their charges and to give greater benefits to the insured, but as the expenses of the companies are necessarily very large, and many of them indulge in extravagant salaries to officers, magnificent buildings, etc., they still keep the best end of the contract in their hands. It is something like the game of faro, the game may be honestly and fairly played, in accordance with the rules of the game, but there is a large percentage of profit that is inevitably •* scooped in” by the bank.
Among the means proposed by which to secure cheaper life insurance, no better has been discovered than the mutual insurance afforded by the various trade organizations. The principle is, simply, when a member dies, an assessment of one, two or three dollars, as has been agreed upon, is levied upon all the other members, and the fund thus accumulated is paid to the widow and orphans of the dead brother. There is no long array of high priced officers who must be paid out of these collections, no heavy rents, no extravagance of any kind. The only officer, usually, who receives any salary, is the Secretary, who is allowed about five per cent of the amount collected to pay for postage, stationary, printing, and such other expenses as are absolutely necessary. These trades relief associations have been growing in popularity during the past ten years, until at present there is scarcely a calling that has not adopted this plan of mutual insurance. There is an esprit du corps, a spirit of comradery, among members of the same trade or calling that binds them together, even though personally strangers to each other, and impels them to fulfill the obligations they assume towards each other. The most noteworthy instances of the successful operations of these mutual relief associations are those instituted by the Masons, Odd Fellows and kindred secret societies. The one best known to Firemen is, perhaps, that of the policemen of New York. Here when a member of the relief association dies, all other members are assessed one dollar, and the fund thus collected amounts to two thousand dollars and upwards. The only expenses involved are the services of the secretary in sending out notices and collecting assessments. Even the lawyers of this city have organized a mutual relief association.
At the recent Convention of the National Firemen’s Association in Boston, a committee that has had the matter in charge for two years, reported a plan for the organization of a National Firemen’s Life Association. The constitution and by-laws suggested were printed in full in THE JOURNAL of last week, and should be carefully studied by all Firemen. That it may be so studied, action upon it was delayed until the meeting next year, at which time it will undoubtedly be adopted, with such suggestions as future consideration may suggest. In brief, the plan provides that Firemen may become members of the Lite Association on payment of a membership fee of $3 ; in return he will receive a certificate of membership ; no more than two certificates will be issued to one member; in case of his death, he shall be entitled to receive the sum of $1000 for each certificate held ; the assessments to pay death losses are graded according to age, persons between 21 and 30 to pay $1,10; between 31 and 40, $1,50; between 41 and 50, $1,75 ; from 50 upwards, $2. These assessments to be decreased as the membership increases over 1000, or the number necessary to secure the payment of $1,000. Provision is made for the management of the association and for the safe keeping of its funds. There is no good reason why a Fireman’s Life Association should not be made as successful as similiar organizations have been among Masons, Odd Fellows and other special callings. If it can be the benefits to be derived from it will be incalculable. We sincerely hope to see the proposed organization placed on such a basis that it will command the confidence and support of every Fireman in the land.