Lusitania Disaster, Alfred Hopkins,  and
Insurance Regulation, and the Mixed Claim Commission—Part XI.D

Michael Sean Quinn

In this part the case of Alfred Lloyd
Hopkins (“Hopkins”) is revisited. Hopkins had ordinary life insurance; it did
not include a war risk exclusion and paid its $10,000 limits promptly. However,
he had bought a special accident policy, and it did not pay because it was
subject to a war risk exclusion inserted by endorsement at the time of
purchase. There was litigation about the legality putting the rider on the
policy, but the insurance company prevailed. A new endorsement of that sort was
not forbidden by state law.

The Commission’s discussion of the
case need not all be repeated here, but at lease on level, it is striking
different than its discussion of the Vanderbilt case (Part XI.B) and the Fowles
case (Part XI.C). It is easily findable on the internet as Mixed Claims Commission Docket #4.

Hopkins was a trained engineer. He
had worked in ship building for many years, had eventually become president of
the company, and had risen to a salary of $25,000.00 a year by the time of the
time the Lusitania was sunk. His
salary was used to support his family.

Hopkins was a healthy man of 44 years
when he was killed. His wife of 9 years was 41 when she was widowed. “He left
his widow and [their] young daughter without any source of income for their 
maintenance save the widow’s personal exertions and the generosity of the members
of her family, who were not, without personal sacrifice, financially able to
support them.” (It was apparently irrelevant that Ms. Hopkins had remarried in
1920, or so.)

The Commission awarded the $50,000.00
and the daughter $80,000.00, “both sums to bear interest at the rate of five
percent per annum from November 1, 1923.”
One might wish to keep in mind that
as of 1915 $25,000.00 would equal $588,626.24 in 2015 dollars, that $50,00000
in 1923 dollars would be worth $695,336.26 in 2015, that that $80,000.00 in
1923 dollars would equal $1,112,538.01 in 2015 dollars, according to US
Inflation Calculator. (There are risk adjustment factors built into Ms. Hopkins
award. Her remarriage and risks of divorce?  Her age? And what else? Her being a woman and
not a child maybe?)
Michael Sean Quinn, Ph.D.,
J.D., C.P.C.U. . . .
The Law Firms of Michael Sean Quinn et
Quinn and Quinn
                                 1300 West Lynn Street, Suite 208
Texas 78703
344-9466 – Fax