Filed Under:Claims, Catastrophe & Restoration

The Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Tragedy And Insurance

At around closing time 100 years ago on March 25, a fire broke out on the eighth floor of the Asch Building on the corner of Greene Street and Washington Place in New York City.

It was the start of what would be known as the deadliest workplace disaster in the city until the attack on the World Trade Center. Due to the fire and the horrific manner in which it took the lives of 146 people, a new kind of insurance was born in New York and building safety standards were instituted — standards that insurers today still devote resources to verify when underwriting a commercial property policy.

Blanck and Harris, charged with manslaughter, stood trial for their roles in the senseless deaths and were acquitted. It was alleged that they kept the door locked to keep workers from taking breaks, stealing, and to keep union organizers out. The factory, with its intimidated, young immigrant women, was a non-union shop although women’s unions were organizing workers in the clothing trades throughout the city. Strikes during recent prior years for basic workers’ rights and safe conditions made headlines.

Owners, who profited form their fire insurance, eventually settled with families for about $75 per victim. There was no workers’ compensation. About 400,000 people turned out for the funeral procession on April 5. The outrage and sympathy from the tragedy fueled reform, as they demanded change.

Featured Video

Most Recent Videos

Video Library ››

Top Story

15 tips for driving safely on ice and snow

More than 800 people die each year in the U.S. in vehicle crashes caused by snow, sleet and freezing rain.

Top Story

PIA's national president was born to insure

Robert W. Hansen Jr., a fourth-generation insurance professional, reflects on what drives him to keep selling after more than 30 years in the business.

More Resources

Comments

eNewsletter Sign Up

Claims Connection eNewsletter

Breaking news on disasters, fraud, legal trends, technology, and CE initiatives for the P&C claim professional – FREE. Sign Up Now!

Mobile Phone

Advertisement. Closing in 15 seconds.