The Ashburton Guardian. Magna est Veritas et Prævalebit. FRIDAY, AUGUST 23, 1889. THE INSURANCE BILL.
The House of Representatives have taken * very strong step for the protection of the interests of the public by the important amendments made m the Fire and Marine Insurance Companies Bill now before Parliament. The Bill as introduced provided that no Insurance Company with limited liability should carry on business m New Zealand unless it had an intact paid-up capital of £50,000, and if at any time the balance sheet of the company should show less capital than this the amount shall be made up lo £50,000, and if this be not done m six months the company shall forthwith cease to do business m New Zealand. These provisions were no doubt intended as much for the protection 6f the large Insurance Companies against the competition of smaller companies, as for the protection of insurers and it has bsen stated that the Bill is particularly aimed at the intention of certain co-operative associations to undertake fire and marine insurance as a branch of their business. Be that as it may the House showed a determination that the publio should be fairly dealt with, and Mr Feldwick's proposed clause that a policy of insurance should be deemed an absolute contract for the payment, m case of loss, of the actual sum stated m the polioy and on which rremiums were payable was rejected only beoause by it the companies would have lost the power of reinstatement, which is valuable provision against over insurance and frauds. Mr Downie Stewart then moved as follows : " On and after the first day of January, 1890, all fire insurance receipts and policies shall be issued subject to such conditions only as the Governor m Council may from time to time approve of, and cause to be published m the "Gazette." Any stipulations m such receipt or policy at variance with any such condition shall be void." The discussion on Mr Feldwick's amendment revealed the existence of bo many iusidious clauses m the conditions of policies, all to the disadvantage of insurers, that it was seen that the House could hardly frame conditions to meet all the cases and this duty by Mr Stewart's clause will devolve upon the Governor-in-Council The reservations which contain such dangerous powers to insurance companies as to frequently practically nullify tlie benefits of the policy are generally printed m small type on the back of the policy, and are very seldom read by insurers. As illustrations of the effect of some of these clauses it was stated that during the fire m Taranaki, «ome of the Insurance officers offered settlers' who were m danger the proportion of their pfCl*unms for the unexpired portion of their insureu period ; and declared the policies cancelled. Another instance was of a man who, having insured a property m a bush district, found himself deprived of the protection he paid for, by a clause endorsed on the back of his policies excepting all risk of fire from the bush — the very risk he had thought he was insuring against. Yet another is the case of a Company which has a clause on its policies to the effect that m case of destruction or loss by fire, no money shall be [pad without a certificate from the nearest Magistrate or J.P. that'the fire was accidental, and that the insured is a person of good moral character, and not likely to commit arson. A concession to Co-opera-tive Associations has been effected by amendments proposed by Sir John Hall reducing the amount of capital m their casC *° £25,000 paid up and intact, and a further £>25 t ?°0 uncalled. This concession however is insu^? c * en * i to opiate the prohibitory effect of the 2111 ltt thi ? direction. It is not surprising that some of the insurance companies are up m arms against Mr Downie Stewart's clause, and every effort will be made to obtain its rejection by the Legislative Council. There is, however, a determination among the members of the Lower House to insist upon the retention of the prinoipal provisions of the Bill, of which this olause is certainly one, and the Council may for once agree with a measure giving the pnblic so much needed protection.