TO INSURANCE. The relation of insurance to the amount of fire loss deserves careful considera tion. Over against the great gain which the system of fire insurance confers upon society must be set a direct loss due to the increase in the amount of property destroyed by fire as a result of the insurance itself. A part of this increased loss is due to the greater carelessness of the owners because of the insurance; a larger part is clue to the deliberate destruction of in sured property by the owners for the sake of se curing the insurance. What proportion of fires is due to incendiarism it is impossible to deter mine with accuracy. Various estimates, ranging from 20 to 40 per cent., have been made by different investigators. If fires of unknown ori gin are largely counted as incendiary, as there is a natural tendency to count them, the proportion is made unduly high. In Massachusetts, for a period of seven years just preceding the first ap pointment of a State fire marshal, which occurred in 1S94, incendiary fires and those of unknown origin combined constituted per cent. of the total number of fires. The proportion in most States is undoubtedly higher. It must be borne
in mind, however, that by no means all incen diary fires are set for the purpose of obtaining insurance. In Massachusetts. for example, in the four years for which statistics are available —viz. 1896. 1897, 1900, and 1901—out of a total of 1264 incendiary fires, only 408, or 32 per cent., were set for the insurance. During the same years incendiary fires constituted 7.1 per cent. of the total number of fires in the State. The percentage is undoubtedly higher in other States. The value of the property deliberately destroyed in order to obtain insurance consti tutes one element in the cost of insurance. The insurance companies themselves are indirectly responsible for a part of this loss. It is a mat ter of common knowledge that agents and brokers show too great laxity in granting insurance on property up to, and sometimes far beyond, its full value. Every instance of over-insurance is a standing invitation to incendiarism. The ex tent of it is one of the unfortunate results of the zeal of local agents for business and commissions.