False Radio Message and ReInsurance

A few friends and I were wondering if anyone has any information regarding the DOJ investigation that NY papers claimed had happened where DOJ investigators were checking into claims that there had been reinsurance efforts.

Wyn Craig Wade speaks of it in his book.

Thanks Maureen.
I've wondered about that for years. The problem as I see it is that nobody can say with any certainty where the wireless messages came from that gave cause to believe the ship was safe. Rather difficult to conduct an investigation when you can't even identify a source you need to know about.

I don't suppose you've been able to locate any archival references on your own?
I am in difficulty with this allegation of 'reinsurance efforts'. As I understand it the term 'reinsurance' relates to a retrospective load-spreading process on contracts under consideration or already running and upon which no risk realisation (casualty) is discernible.

Any attempt to effect reinsurance on a happening casualty without authoritative reports would surely find no takers.

Furthermore, any attempt to effect reinsurance on a happening casualty whilst withholding vital information from the putative underwriters would result in a contract founded in fraud and therefore unenforceable in the courts. The intending insurers would know this, therefore I deem this 'reinsurance' allegation to be a non sequitur.

Deviation from an insured venture other than for saving life is a separately-insurable contingency.


Hi! As always, I have some hunches actually, but am not an expert at this point.

I am actually working on this to find out about the investigations into the allegations rather than any end product being an actual verified criminal act of reinsurance. If an organized investigative body was checking this out for Senator Smith then there will be records. I know that he contacted Treasury for the cutter to assist in boarding Carpathia, but he also contacted the Attorney General at that time.

What has me curious is that AG Bonaparte in 1908 had established the Bureau of Investigation and fairly soon afterward added Secret Service agents to the newly established Bureau. The message interception occured while a set of Navy ships were being called by the President of the US to check out what was going on and to determine the status of thepassengers, specifically AW Butt. Butt was a Presidential Aide and the secret service agents may have been called into the fray to investigate all of this,but under the guise of the new BOI.

What I am trying to determine is whether the "DOJ" folks investigating all of this were from under the newly established BOI or from another area of DOJ?

The Department of the Navy made an allegation based on some intercepted messages. But there were a lot of messages, phone calls and other forms of communications that were pretty clear and one affidavit it seems that there may have been knowledge on PAS Franklin's part while he was making arrangements for the train trip to Boston.

There were a lot of people who were checking into things. Smith had friends and US Marshals and folks all sworn to serve subpoenas, but the paper actually refers to these individuals as coming from the DOJ.

Wow Noel, thanks for the reinsurance information. I agree with what you wrote. But I was just referencing the incident. I think that there were other issues. And I really think that Senator Smith was more clever than people give him credit for in some cases. He moved the hearings to DC (a Federal District not under the same state rules of NY) and he took nearly all of the managing telegram and wireless related testimony as affidavits, letters and memorandums. I honestly believe that whether or not anything came of it or not is beside the point, I truly believe that there was some sort of serious investigation into the reinsurance issue, but more importantly the Congressman Huges message.

A BOI priority was anti-trusts. And there were concerns with J P Morgan Jr and some investments made in Honduras prior to the sinking. President Taft had served as Governor in the Philippines, Butt has served in the Military and Millet as a newsman...all around the same time and the Panama Canel was being built. Morgan was a big railraod man and the area of Panama was served by railroads taking people and cargo from east to west (vice versa). I truly believe that there were investigations and that they transcended just reinsurance, but that was the reason given.

Just curious if anyone else had looked into this?
For the reasons Noel gave, an insurance scam was never a starter. As early as 16 April, Lloyd's publicly stated that nothing was amiss with the insurance. Nevertheless, Senator Smith continued to pursue the matter. As late as 27 April, he asked Phillip Franklin,

"Between the time that you received this information from Montreal and the time you made public the information which you received from Montreal, did your company reinsure the Titanic or its cargo anywhere?"

Senator Smith had several bees in his bonnet. The business of the train was one of them. Franklin's supposed early knowledge of casualties was explained away by Benjamin Campbell, a railroad official.

Where is the newspaper report you mention, Maureen?
Sorry if it seems like I duck in and out of this at times, but been a little busy.

Again, I am not claiming that anyone did anything regarding actual reinsuring of anything. All I amsaying is that there were accusations by several sources and it appeared to be widespread whether real or imagined and Titanic was an official mail carrier. All I am saying is that this is something that would be checked out and I believe that there is sufficient evidence to state that there could have been some level of investigation. It may have been five minutes in duration or a week. I just think that there was one. Here are some of my resources.

New York Times is the newspaper.
NYT 4/17 Berlin 4/16 "...german transport insurance companies lose.....on reinsurance of the Titanic."
NYT 4/18 Washington 4/17 "...the Department of Justice has detailed detectives ...the department is of the opinion that the messages were sent in a deliberate attempt topostpone knowledge of the wreck inorder to give time for the reinsuring by those heavily liable in case of loss."

>>NYT 4/17 Berlin 4/16 "...german transport insurance companies lose.....on reinsurance of the Titanic." <<

Mmmmm......Unless I'm mistaken, no German companies underwrote any of the insurance on the Titanic. I'll have to do some back checking on that.
Thanks Michael. I sincerely appreciate your heart to help me out here.

German insurance companies...hmmmm...that is just one insurance option. What of folks sending things or mailing things of value that they either insured cheaply or not at all that may have been of considerable value? German artwork or jewels being sent to retailers?

Its funny, this is just an observation, but I remember back in the days when a question about the pulling of Titanic drawing ships towards it caused folks to consider the thoughts and brought feeding frenzies on various threads. Too bad reinsurance can't be a fresh different view type of topic.

Titanic was the closest thing to an international representation of peoples of the world, why couldn't there be German goods or mails on that ship that may have had to be insured? I'm not asking to be mean,I sincerely am asking. And if not, why would a Berlin news source document such details to the NYT if it was widely known that no German companies had underwritten any of the insurance? But you said ON Titanic herself. But what about the goods or mails she carried?

You know so much more than me and so do the other folks who posted here.
>>why couldn't there be German goods or mails on that ship that may have had to be insured?<<

There may well have been. If you can get a copy of the original manifest, you might see something that can help generate some leads. I think in this case the issue may well be the insurance on the ship herself and not the cargo she carried. I can't speak to any goods or the mail, but IIRC, that would be a seperate matter. Like if you ship something and purchase your own insurance on a letter or a parcel. This would be something you arranged on your own hook, and not something offered by the shipping line.
"why couldn't there be German goods or mails on that ship that may have had to be insured?"

As to goods, why ship via Southampton when there are more convenient opportunities via Hamburg?

As to mail, I would conjecture the contract for the carriage of Imperial German Mail would rest with one of the German lines out of Hamburg.

According the The Times of 24 April 1912, insurance claims on the hull were paid by underwriters in Britain, the US and on the continent. I've got a reference somewhere that specifically mentions Germany. The particular article was intended to allay fears that some companies might be ruined by their exposure to the disaster. It points out that the risk was spread very thinly and nobody came to grief, though nobody was actually rejoicing either.

During the confusion on the morning of 15 April, a few minor underwriters on-sold their risks but no more than £50,000 was involved. No doubt some fingers were burned. Lloyd's complained loudly about misleading information put out by newsagencies, particularly Central News, but only the reckless seem to have acted on it.
"Titanic's Hull and Machinery were insured by Willis Faber and Dumas Ltd and the leading underwriters were Commercial Union Assurance Co Ltd." - Source - Guildhall Library - London.

Bob Couttie

Liverpool and London P&I Club long told the story about White Star executives trooping around to their offices the day after the sinking appealing for them to enter Titanic into the club, since it had been intended to do so. L&L held a meeting and agreed to do so. Strange but true.
>>Wasn't the Titanic under insured!<<

Yes she was. $5million of the ship's $7.5million was covered by outside underwriters with the rest of the risk covered by White Star's own in-house insurance fund.