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The Pamphlet Collection of Sir Robert Stout: Volume 69

Government Insurance

Government Insurance.

An Act was passed in 1669 empowering the Governor to grant life insurances and annuities on the security of the colonial revenues, and the business was commenced in March, 1870. The progress of the institution during the first ten years of its life, and the motives inspiring its establishment, can be told by Sir H. A. Atkinson, who is reported saving: "Intimately connected with the subject of the prudential savings of the community are the questions of life assurance and the growth of the Government Insurance Department. Established in 1870, at a time when public confidence in many English assurance companies was severely shaken, and with the avowed object of giving to the assured the absolute security of the colony, the department has since exhibited a progressive advancement which warrants the statement that the experiment sanctioned by the Legislature twelve years ago has now been proved a complete success."

This scheme may be justly described as the only successful institution of the kind set on foot by any Government, and the example thus offered has attracted the attention of various other colonial Governments, and also the Indian Government. The premiums were from the first fixed at what were deemed the lowest rate commensurate with a prudent regard to safety, and without any idea of profit-bonuses. But notwithstanding these low charges, careful management, together with the favourable influences of a healthy climate and comfortable social conditions, have produced results more satisfactory than was anticipated. The business of the department in the first ten years of its existence produced a profit of £77,000, as shown by the valuation report of the London actuaries.

The advantages of the scheme have been thus summarised:—1. The security offered to the assured. 2. The division of profits, which are wholly divided among the policyholders. 3. The low scale of premiums. 4. Policies containing no restrictive conditions.

The following tabular statement will show the growth and extent of this department:—
Year Ending. Number of Polices Sum Assured.
1881 1,790 £550,351
1882 13,259 1,335,968
1883 8,718 1,077,457
1884 5,988 821,442
1885 4,379 859,769
1886 3,456 713,182
1887 3,124 766,952
1888 2,944 785,092