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The Cyclopedia of New Zealand [Auckland Provincial District]



Alliance Assurance Company, See page 296.

Mr. Bartholomew Kent, Manager for Auckland and Taranaki.

Hanna, photo.Mr. B. Kent.

Hanna, photo.
Mr. B. Kent.

The Equitable Life Assurance Society Of The United States. This great society was founded in the State of New York, America, on the 26th of July, 1859, its distinguishing object being to conduct business solely on a mutual plan in the interests of policy-holders, all profits to be the property of the assured and distributed amongst them. At the end of 1860 there were only 268 policies in force, assuring £238,333, and from this modest beginning has grown all the stupendous business, which was sedulously pushed into State after State, and eventually beyond the borders of America into strange lands, over into the United Kingdom, to Paris, St. Petersburg, Stockholm, Christiana, Brussels, Amsterdam, amburg, Copenhagen, Berlin, Vienna, Budapesth, Milan, Madrid, and Santiago, through Canada, South Africa, and Australasia. Such a record for forty years commands attention, but the actual figures read like a fairy tale of finance. Thus the assurance in force grew from £238,333 in 1860, to £27,963,304 in 1870, and then to £219,670,058 in 1899. Then the assets grew from £24,396 in 1860, to £2,189,755 in 1870, and to £58,373,185 in 1899, and surpluses from nothing in 1860, to £45,783 in 1870, to £1,135,499 in 1880, and to £12,711,975 in 1899. There is that in these statistics which pre-supposes certain special qualifications which recommend themselves to the public, and especially is this evident in a comparison for later years, during which the society has become more widely known. The increase in business in 1899 was in itself startling. For instance, the assurance in force increased by £14,012,322; the assets by £4,546,248; the surplus by £793,123; and the income by £895,038. The mere existence of so considerable a surplus as £12,711,975 makes the guarantees absolutely safe, twelve million sovereigns constituting a mountain of strength, which, with the other inducements, makes the society irresistible. Such a surplus secures safety not only to existing policy-holders, but also to future. Prosperity so great is important in many ways, and particularly to the policy-holder, who is enriched by substantial dividends, the amounts of which are very gratifying; and these dividends, with the demonstrated strength of the institution, make it difficult for anyone to withstand such manifest attractions. Put shortly, the Equitable Life issues such life and endowment policies as guaranteed cash value policies, continuous instalment policies, twenty year gold debentures, premium dividend policies, indemnity policies, endowment bonds, annual dividend policies, annuities of every variety, term policies, children's endowments, joint life policies, instalment policies, etc. A variety like this gives the investor a wide choice, and enables him to choose one form or another, adapted to his individual requirements. There are special inducements in each, and terms are offered that are calculated to impress, and are as liberal in principle as in working out. In addition to the attractive terms, the stability of the society must be taken into account; also, the known fact that death claims are paid immediately after death takes place, when money is frequently of inestimable value; and it should also be borne in mind that the following clause is marked on every contract issued: “This policy shall be indisputable, after two years from its date of issue, for the amount due, providing the premiums are duly paid. Every assistance is rendered by the society to hasten the payment of claims.” It is worth adding that in 1899 nearly 80 per cent. of the death claims were paid within one day after proofs of death were received. The “guaranteed cash-value policy” is largely sought after, and some years ago the society introduced an innovation under which surrender values, both in cash and in paid-up assurances, were guaranteed. This guaranteed cash value policy gives all the benefits and advantages of other forms of policy, and, in addition, guarantees surrender values, both in cash and paid-up assurance, the amounts of which (together with loans mentioned) increase year by year, and are written in the policy.

It is not, however, necessary to give a detailed account of the various policies issued, each having some special characteristic to recommend it. In forty years the society has paid to policy-holders or their representatives £63,000,000 and now holds over £58,000,000 in assets. The business of the society has always been conducted on the highest principles, and it stands for all that is true and just in the assurance world. It has ever been foremost in introducing reforms in the direction of liberalising policy conditions, and its policies, as issued to-day, contain no restrictions as to page 1019 travel, residence, or occupation after issue. The Equitable also observes a decency in competition, refraining from attacking its competitors, and practising an honourable tolerance. The Australian branches were opened in 1884, and business has been done to the extent of £1,000,000 up to the beginning of 1899. In New Zealand the attractions of the society have ensured a big business, and a revival of interest has lately been observed. Much may be expected of the Equitable during the next few years. The head office in the colony is on Lambton Quay, Wellington, Mr. F. H. D. Bell being the chairman of directors, Dr. Albert Martin chief medical officer, Mr. E. Trevor-Gould resident secretary, and Mr. P. M. Thomson inspector of agencies. The local directors have power to issue policies and pay claims. What has here been written is sufficient to give a general idea of this important institution, which, in 1886, reached the position which made it the strongest life assurance company in the world. A mountain of strength, it has adopted the proud motto, “Not for a day, but for all time.” Essentially a local office, it is acclaimed everywhere. Its buildings in Sydney and Melbourne are among the finest specimens of modern architecture in the colonies, and have also proved excellent investments for the society. The Equitable publishes a list of all its investments, and adverting to this fact, the “Bulletin” of the 16th of August, 1899, declared that “as a guarantee of the soundness of the investments, this is a valuable idea; and it would be a very valuable shock to old-imported British prejudices if Australian societies would take the public into their confidence in like manner.”

Mr. Percy M. Thomson, Inspector of Agencies in New Zealand for the Equitable Life Assurance Society of the United States of America, has had an extensive experience of insurance business in the Colonies. he is of American descent, and possesses in a high degree the indomitable energy which is characteristic of American manhood. To this is doubtless due the marked success which he has won, and his rapid progress in commercial prosperity. Leaving school at the age of fourteen, he entered the service of the Equitable Life Assurance Society, and from the position of office boy perseveringly pursued the hard road to success, till he was called upon as one eminently adapted to fill the responsible position he now occupies. Mr. Thomson was born in Auckland in 1872, and is a son of the late Mr. W. A. Thomson, the pioneer of the Accident Insurance Company in New Zealand, and the first General Manager in New Zealand of the Equitable Life Assurance Society of the United States. He was educated at a private school in Sydney—whither he had gone as a child—till the age of ten years, when he returned to Auckland, where his education was continued at the public schools. Mr. Thomson is well known in Auckland as a runner of repute and an all-round athlete. He is vice-president of the Grafton La Crosse Club, which, in 1901, carried off the New Zealand championship, and he also stands well as a cricketer and a footballer.