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(To be presented at the meeting of the American Bar Association at Narra
gansett Pier, Rhode Island, August 24, 1905.)
Your Committee on Insurance Law respectfully report:
The legal questions relating to the business of insurance are so numerous as to render impracticable a reference to any except those of the greatest importance. The business is of stupendous proportions. The amount of insurance of all kinds in force in the United States approximates $50,000,000,000. The aggregate assets of the insurance companies approximate $3,000,000,000. The American people pay annually for insurance of all kinds approximately $1,000,000,000, and they received from the companies during the year ending December 31, 1904, approximately $800,000,000. These figures do not show the amount of insurance at risk in, nor the aggregate assets of, the many fraternal beneficiary associations and local mutual fire insurance companies.
It is said that the general public possesses but a limited amount of information about insurance, and it is probable that most of the readers of this report do not know even the names of the companies in which they are insured. The total number of persons who carry insurance cannot be definitely ascertained, but a fair estimate is 20,000,000. The number of people in touch with the various companies transacting the insurance business of the United States, the vast sum annually paid for insurance and the magnitude of the resulting business, justify whatever efforts may be put forth to secure a reduction in the cost of insurance and the utmost publicity with respect to corporations that take this enormous sum from the people
annually. Cheaper rates and greater publicity are the two primary reasons for governmental interference between the companies and their patrons.
Sound public policy encourages insurance in all its branches. Through life insurance provision is made against the infirmities
financial misfortune and for the care of wife and children. Through fire insurance companies, funds in the nature of a tax are collected from which those contributing are indemnified against loss by fire. · Publicity is therefore demanded to prevent fraud and to afford the insuring public knowledge that the companies to which they pay their money, either for life, fire, accident or any other kind of insurance, are solvent and conducting their business in accordance with law and sound business policy. Oversupervision, excessive and inequitable schemes of taxation and extravagant business methods increase the cost to the insured of the protection which he seeks through his insurance policies.
Your committee have sought information with regard to the business and the related legal problems from all available sources; from the insurance commissioners of the several states, from insurance officials, from the insurance journals and the public press. Commissioner Garfield, of the Bureau of Corporations, has placed at the committee's disposal much information collected and compiled by him and his efficient assistants.
PRESIDENT ROOSEVELT'S TRIBUTE TO THE AMERICAN BAR
The President said to your committee that he looks to the American Bar to keep the people properly informed upon the legal phases of all public questions; that he recognizes in the Bar a powerful ally of his policy toward corporations. He declared that this Association exerts a strong influence in moulding public opinion, he expressed a warm personal interest in the special work of your committee, and said that he is very much in favor of the federal supervision of insurance.