Coming down from Sacramento the other night, I found on a
center-table in the saloon of the steamboat, a pamphlet
advertisement of an Accident Insurance Company. It interested me
a good deal, with its General Accidents, and its Hazardous
Tables, and Extra-Hazardous furniture of the same description,
and I would like to know something more about it. It is a new
thing to me. I want to invest if I come to like it. I want to ask
merely a few questions of the man who carries on this Accident
shop. For I am an orphan.
He publishes this list as accidents he is willing to insure
General accidents include the Traveling Risk, and also all forms
of Dislocations, Broken Bones, Ruptures, Tendons, Sprains,
Concussions, Crushings, Bruising, Cuts, Stabs, Gunshot Wounds,
Poisoned Wounds, Burns and Scalds, Freezing, Bites, Unprovoked
Assaults by Burglars, Robbers, or Murderers, the action of
Lightning or Sunstroke, the effects of Explosions, Chemicals,
Floods, and Earthquakes, Suffocation by Drowning or Choking
where such accidental injury totally disables the person insured
from following his usual avocation, or causes death within three
months from the time of the happening of the injury.
I want to address this party as follows:
Now, Smith I suppose likely your name is Smith you don't
know me and I don't know you, but I am willing to be friendly. I
am acquainted with a good many of your family I know John as
well as I know any man and I think we can come to an
understanding about your little game without any hard feelings.
Do you allow the same money on a dog-bite that you do on an
earthquake? Do you take special risks for specific accidents?
that is to say, could I, by getting a policy for dog-bites alone,
get it cheaper than if I took a chance in your whole lottery? And
if so, and supposing I got insured against earthquakes, would you
charge any more for San Francisco earthquakes than for those that
prevail in places that are better anchored down? And if I had a
policy on earthquakes alone, I couldn't collect on a dog-bite,
may be, could I?
If a man had such a policy, and an earthquake shook him up and
loosened his joints a good deal, but not enough to incapacitate
him from engaging in pursuits which did not require him to be
tight, wouldn't you pay him some of his pension? I notice you do
not mention Biles. How about Biles? Why do you discriminate
between Provoked and Unprovoked Assaults by Burglars? If a
burglar entered my house at dead of night, and I, in the
excitement natural to such an occasion, should forget myself and
say something that provoked him, and he should cripple me,
wouldn't I get any thing? But if I provoked him by pure accident,
I would have you there, I judge; because you would have to pay
for the Accident part of it any how, seeing that insuring against
accidents is just your strong suit, you know. Now, that item
about protecting a man against freezing is good. It will procure
you all the custom you want in this country. Because, you
understand, the people hereabouts have suffered a good deal from
just such climatic drawbacks as that. Why, three years ago, if a
man being a small fish in the matter of money went over to
Washoe, and bought into a good silver mine, they would let that
man go on and pay assessments till his purse got down to about
thirty-two Fahrenheit, and then the big fish would close in on
him and freeze him out. And from that day forth you might
consider that man in the light of a bankrupt community; and you
would have him down to a spot, too. But if you are ready to
insure against that sort of thing, and can stand it, you can give
Washoe a fair start. You might send me an agency. Business? Why,
Smith, I could get you more business than you could attend to.
With such an understanding as that, the boys would all take a
You don't appear to make any particular mention of taking risks
on blighted affections. But if you should conclude to do a little
business in that line, you might put me down for six or seven
chances. I wouldn't mind expense you might enter it on the
extra hazardous. I suppose I would get ahead of you in the long
run any how, likely. I have been blighted a good deal in my time.
But now as to those "Effects of Lightning." Suppose the lightning
were to strike out at one of your men and miss him, and fetch
another party could that other party come on you for damages?
Or could the relatives of the party thus suddenly snaked out of
the bright world in the bloom of his youth come on you in case he
was crowded for time? as of course he would be, you know, under
You say you have "issued over sixty thousand policies, forty-five
of which have proved fatal and been paid for." Now, do you know,
Smith, that that looks just a little shaky to me, in a measure?
You appear to have it pretty much all your own way, you see. It
is all very well for the lucky forty-five that have died "and
been paid for," but how about the other fifty-nine thousand nine
hundred and fifty-five? You have got their money, haven't you?
but somehow the lightning don't seem to strike them and they
don't get any chance at you. Won't their families get fatigued
waiting for their dividends? Don't your customers drop off rather
slow, so to speak?
You will ruin yourself publishing such damaging statements as
that, Smith. I tell you as a friend. If you had said that the
fifty-nine thousand nine hundred and fifty-five died, and that
forty-five lived, you would have issued about four tons of
policies the next week. But people are not going to get insured,
when you take so much pains to prove that there is such precious
little use in it. Good-by Smith!