Commercial v. Pleasure-car Insurance.
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Some of the Differences Between the Two Classes of Business.
The present uncertain circumstances of our national and individualPlife have turned many an otherwise careless man towaricis thoughts of insurance. The ordinary small householder with little fears as to the risks he runs in connection with the Owning of household goods. is nowadays haunted _lay visions of the possible results of Zeppelin blindness. With lights all subdued to produce uniformity of glow, the small flat at Peckham Rye may at any time be quite easily mistaken for No. 10, Downing Street, a distinction unsought by the first-named owner but forced upon him maybe by. the circumstances of the ease. We are all of us now more inclined to consider the advisability of insurance under the many attractive forms in which it is nowadays presented by enterprisinm corporations, whether it be as to domestic risks or incidental business ones.
It gave us particular pleasure the other day, therefore, to have the opportunity of a short chat with Mr. Harford G. Olden, of the British Dreadnought 'Underwriters, Ltd. He is the mainspring of that enterprising concern and we naturally took the opportunity to talk with him concerning the relative characteristics of insurance against pleasure-car and commercial-vehicle risks of all kinds.
From an actuarial point of view, he finds, there is very little difference in the long run in respect to the premium that must ho asked for one or the other classof business. It is a case of losing on the roundabouts and gaining on the swings. The risk from the speed of the touring car is balanced by the risk from the weight of the average commercial vehicle. Then again, the industrial machine has to be operated in sunshine as well as in rain. Whatever the weather conditions, the goods have to be delivered and passengers carried. That is a serious consideration for any insurance corporation with a view to the proper maintenance of machinery as much as to the greater risks which are involved when fogs descend on us cr when the streets are a mass of slippery slime. Yet against that disadvantage our insurance friends ha-re the consolation that the man in charge of the motor lorry, and this is most distinctly true in the ease of the steam wagon, is very often a better trained mechanician than is the private chauffeur.
Force of circumstances and operation are more often than not responsible for the fact that the lorry driver has to look after many repairs and adjustments which the private chauffeur has permission to refer to some garage with which the owner of the oar has regular business relations, Then there is the question of the joy-ride. This is indeed a most serious subject for insurance brokers who handle motor-vehicle business, and we are assured by Mr. Olden that it has had in its various guises a remarkable effect on the premiums which are chargeable in connection with ordinary pleasureear work. It has indeed to be an enthusiastic driver who will attempt a joy-ride with a five-ton steel-tired steam wagon or .with a. brewery lorry, or even with a, more or less draughty and frequently uncomfortable delivery van. The joy-ride is not a characteristic of corn mercial-v ebiele operation. • The private chauffeur in charge of a high-grade touring ear, especially nowadays, is very seldom indeed allowed by the owner to show off the paces of the machine which he is controlling, and what-circumstance is more likely than that he will attempt the latter when he at last has the car, impialperly it may be, under his sole control The worst accidents Mr. Olden tells us, are always those in which it is found that the chauffeur alone has been in charge of the car and no owner, or any relative, present. So it will be
seen that the risks are very. different in the two classes of work, and it is certainly interesting, while we are all just now more inclined to interest ourselves in insurance matters, to hear from an expert of Mr. OteLen's..capacity, that they more or less balance eaah other in regard to seriousness and import.
We wondered. whether steam or petrol. involved greater risks and whether, rubber tires were more dangerous from the inSurance point of view than steel, and in reply to a question on these lines, the principal of the Dreadnought concern assured us that actuarially there was ' nothing in it."
The taxicab was a considerable risk. So many people take taxicabs only when they had a sprint for a train or a hustle to keep an appointment, and the prospect of an extra tip invariably. jeopardized the insurance,company's chance of a profit on that
individual policy. The biggest commercial-vehicle risk, of °course., is that in connection with passengercarrying machines of all kinds, :solely because of the number of individual passengers whose lives and limbs may be jeopardized. Yet even wifh the passenger-carrying branch of the business there are limiting circumstances, and it has been found as a result of experience that private-hire work is much less risky than operation which necessitates crawling in the public streets or hanging about on ranks. • This is not the occasion on which to write fully of the special advantages which this particular 'insurance concern offers to its clients, but we know enough of Nry. Olden's exceptional business capacity to feel sure that his company's terms demand consideration, and that he has embodied in his proposals some of the most enterprising ideas in connection with modern insurance. It is to be remembered thatahe representa a concern Which is not a tariff office, and there are very few organizations of that kind nowadays. This is essentially a time for economy, and the non-tariff policy of the British Dreadnought -Under-Writers, Ltd., will certainly make a very distinct appeal to those who appreciate. the fact that trust methods, even in insurance matters, are not calculated to -reduce costs to the public.