Thursday, April 14, 2011

One Year Shy of a Century

And it doesn't seem that much has changed.

No one wanted to pay life insurance on the band members aboard the Titanic.

White Star said they were private passengers, because they were contracted out through the talent agency C.W. & F.N. Black, which had a monopoly on entertainment the British Atlantic steamships at the time. Although each band member was given a 2nd-class ticket, they were housed in crew's quarters.

The Blacks routinely took out insurance policies on their talent, and told the families to contact their insurance agent.

The insurance agent refused to pay out, and got a judgment in its favor. The families were finally beneficiaries of a public charity -- The Titanic Relief Fund.

This is a runaround all too familiar today. One is tempted to draw reference to dead peasants' insurance, the practice of large companies to pay life insurance policies on their employees with the companies as beneficiaries, except it seems that the Black talent agency didn't get a payout, either.