Sample Q & A

The following reference questions have been asked of the librarians in the
past. We reproduce them to give some idea of the types of
inquiries we receive on a daily basis: if the particular topic happens to be of
interest to you, so much the better! Feel free to also
check out our blog for
other insurance related topics of interest.

Q: I have a few questions that I was hoping you could answer for me,
namely: the cost to insurers, if they were even insured, for the
Hindenburg disaster in 1937; the 1911 Triangle Shirtwaist Factory
fire; and the sinking of the Titanic.

A: While payout amounts were not readily available, the total
amounts of insurance limits written on these three subjects of
disaster were: the Hindenberg, 6 million reichsmark; the Triangle
Shirtwaist company building, $199,750; the Titanic, $5,566,820. Of
course, loss of life was the worst part of these events, but this
aspect was not quantifiable. We supplied this person in California
with information about the sources for our answers so that he could
consult them directly.

Would you please search your files for a copy of the California
Standard Fire Insurance Policy in effect in 1914?

A:  California promulgated standard fire insurance
policy forms in 1909 and again in 1949. We located a copy of the
1909 edition in our historical file of standard policies, along with
the standard forms of several other states.

My boss has been asked to write an article for a trade association
publication that discusses the subject of equipment breakdown
coverage. Can you send some materials on that subject?

A:  A search of our database articles index provided a
substantial list of possibilities, from which we chose eight that
seemed particularly apt, including those summarized as “equipment
breakdown is more than just boiler and machinery” in the Fall, 2001
issue of
The John Liner Review, “equipment breakdown insurance
increasingly needed by all insureds” (Rough Notes,
August, 2000), and “boiler and machinery as a multi-peril exposure:
equipment breakdown can lead to other exposures” (Risk &
Insurance, February, 2000).

Was any form or type of insurance written in the United States
before it was written anywhere else?

A: We learned that title insurance has the “unique
distinction” of being the only form of insurance invented in the
United States. It has been said that the first title insurance
company, the “Law and Property Assurance Society”, existed in
Pennsylvania as early as 1853. Not only did it insure against
defective titles, but it also guaranteed the repayment of loans and

I’m trying to get in touch with the Massachusetts Casualty Insurance
Company, and I can’t find any listing. Can you help?

A: Tracing insurance companies is something we are eminently
prepared to do, whether the request comes from a law firm, a
consumer, or (as happens quite frequently) from a funeral home.
Massachusetts Casualty changed its name to Centre Life Insurance
Company in 1999. Sometimes we are asked to find the successors to
insurance agents and brokers: that can be a bit more difficult, but
quite often we can help with those inquiries as well.

Two insurance agents are trying to get my business. One is saying
the other is offering me a rebate, and that doing so is illegal.
What is a rebate, and is it illegal?

A: Rebating is indeed illegal in Massachusetts and elsewhere.
Questions can arise, though, as to the exact meaning of
“rebate”. This consumer did not tell us what the accused agent was
offering, so we had to respond in generalities. Among other things
we learned through examining the treatise
Responsibilities of Insurance Agents and Brokers
by Bertram Harnett is that offering at no charge a service that
would ordinarily generate a charge may be considered a rebate.

I have heard about a study of workers’ compensation mental stress
claims arising from September 11th terrorism by a group called
AMCOMP. Do you have it?

A:  We didn’t have it, but now we do. AMCOMP donated a
copy to our collection, for which both the patron and the librarians
were very grateful!

Q:  My insurance company
has denied coverage for a vandalized DVD player that I had installed
in my new Toyota Sequoia, saying the vehicle is a truck and that
coverage does not apply to such devices installed in a truck. I
thought my Toyota was a station wagon. Who’s right?

A: This Massachusetts consumer’s insurer seemed to be
on  firm  ground in denying the claim described. The
Massachusetts auto policy explicitly excludes coverage for “custom
furnishings or custom equipment” installed “in or upon any pick-up
truck, van or similar vehicle”. Similar language is contained in the
ISO Personal Auto policy. The Toyota Sequoia is listed in the truck
category of the Toyota section of the symbol and identification
section of the Massachusetts manual.

Q: I’m looking for something that succinctly summarizes the pros and
cons of workers’ compensation self-insurance groups. Is there any
such thing?

A:  We showed this patron a page dated October 2000 in
the International Risk Management Institute’s two-volume set
Risk Financing: A Guide to Insurance Cash Flow
displays the exhibit  “Advantages and Disadvantages of
Workers Compensation Self-Insurance Groups”: she seemed quite
pleased with it.

Q:  I am responsible for arranging my company’s insurance
program and for buying insurance. My boss says he thinks our brokers
make too much money on our account. How can I figure out if he’s

A:  The section entitled “Evaluating Broker
Compensation” in
Practical Risk Management: the Professional’s Handbook
proved extremely helpful.  Three distinct approaches for
evaluating broker compensation are described. This insurance buyer
left feeling far better armed to understand and explain broker
compensation issues than when she came in!

I’m from New York State, and I’m writing an article on the history
of workers’ compensation laws. Am I correct that my state was the
first to enact such a law?

A:  New York State was indeed a leader in
compulsory workers’ compensation laws, but the law was short-lived:
passed in 1910, it was declared unconstitutional by the New York
Court of Appeals in 1911. In 1911 Wisconsin, Nevada, New Jersey,
California, and Washington passed laws that endured. New York, after
amending its constitution, reenacted a law in 1914,  and by
1921 all but six states (plus the then-territories of Alaska,
Hawaii, and Porto [sic] Rico) had compensation acts. Enactment was
not always smooth: in fact, the enactment of a law in Missouri in
1925 represented “the climax of a bitter and persistent battle”.
Whoever said that insurance and its history is boring?

Q:  As a risk management consultant, I am interested in knowing
what factors are important to clients when they are deciding which
consultant to hire. Can you show me anything that might be

A:   A search of our database index of journal
articles quickly produced an extensive list of likely sounding
items. Proving most useful were “Engaging Expectations” from the
October, 1991 issue of
(“…how to pick the best consultant for the job and what to expect
for your money”), “How to Choose, Use, But Not Abuse a Consultant”
from a 1994 issue of
Risk Management Letter, and “Choosing the Right Consultant”
from the August 3, 1998 issue of the
National Underwriter.

Q:  Please find for me an explanation of coverage for
“advertising injury”: it’s just for people in the advertising
business, right?

A:  Not right. David Gauntlett includes a summary of this and
related subjects in the treatise
Insurance Coverage of Intellectual Property. Chapter 2, “The
Scope of Advertising Injury Coverage” includes discussion of the
duty to defend, the causation qualification, the duty to indemnify,
and interpretation of the term “damages” in this context.

Q:  For reasons I don’t want to divulge, I am interested in
articles from the mid-1980s that address the subject of rebating in
the life insurance industry. What can you show me, if anything?

A: This person seemed to think we would be unable to help
him, which posed a (very surmountable) challenge. Relevant items
came from sources such as
Life Association News (“the case against legalized
rebating, March, 1985)
Best’s Review Life/Health (“rebating: poultice or poison?”,
September, 1986) and the
Journal of Insurance Regulation “the tangled insurance
premium rebating question”, March, 1987).

Is there any reference source that indicates the residual market
share of the workers’ compensation business in various states? How
about average indemnity costs by state for workers’ compensation

The first place we look for any questions about workers’
compensation statistical data is the Annual Statistical Bulletin of
the National Council on Compensation Insurance. The 2001 edition of
this excellent publication included charts addressing each of the
above issues.

I am calling from Connecticut. My husband and I are relocating to
Massachusetts and will be insured by Blue Cross. If we divorce, can
I count on retaining my Blue Cross coverage?

A: Not for sure. Section 8F of Chapter 176A of Massachusetts
law outlines ex-spouses rights in this situation. Coverage is
continued unless a “judgment absolute of divorce or of separate
account” provides to the contrary. We sent a copy of the law.

“Sick building syndrome” is something I’ve heard mentioned but know
little about. Has anything been written regarding the syndrome,
particularly in conjunction with insurance coverage issues?

A: Several pertinent items were identified through a search
of our database. One was “Mold: A Growing Liability”
from the February 2001 issue of Risk & Insurance, and another was
one written by member Marvin Milton and published in the March
30-April 5. 2001 issue of New England Real Estate Journal: “Rust,
Rot, Mold and Mildew: Causing Measurable Damage in Buildings”.

My company is small, and we need to be able to travel to visit
prospective clients FAST. Can we purchase a jet airplane in
cooperation with another company or companies, and are there any
particular insurance implications of such deals?

A: The answer to both parts of this question is “yes”.
Insurance Library member Donald Malecki addresses the subject
admirably in the June, 1998 issue of Malecki on Insurance. “Owning a
corporate jet is made easy, covering the liability is what may be
difficult” aptly summarizes his discussion of fractional ownership
of aircraft and the resulting insurance  challenges.

As a consumer, I am very confused by what I am reading about mutual
companies and stock companies and demutualization and mutual holding
companies. Would you please show me something that simply explains
who owns mutual insurance companies?

A: We first provided this person with several insurance
dictionaries and glossaries. Having started with simple definitions,
he was ready to move on and looked at the article “Changes in
Mutual Life Insurer Ownership Form” in the March, 1999 issue
of the Journal of the American Society of CLU and ChFC (now known as
The Journal of Financial Services Professionals). We don’t know if
he liked the idea of demutualization any better than when he came
in, but he understood it better!

Please provide me with some articles contemporaneous with the merger
of St. Paul and USF&G.

A: We culled a dozen articles from the late- 1997 to mid-
1998 time frame that discussed this transaction and management
changes associated with it.

I recently passed the examination to become a licensed insurance
adviser in Massachusetts and understand that I must use written
agreements with my clients regarding the services to be provided and
my compensation for those services. Can you provide me with any
guidance or help in drafting such an agreement?

A: This newly-licensed adviser should most definitely
investigate membership in the Massachusetts Society of Licensed
Insurance Advisers (we gave her the name and telephone number of the
person to contact about membership). Among the many benefits of
membership is access to a “Model Agreement for Insurance
Counseling Services” developed by the Society in conjunction
with attorneys at the law firm of Morrison, Mahoney & Miller.

It seems to me I haven’t heard too much lately about insurance
claims involving asbestos. Are they fading from view?

A: We think not. The Wall Street Journal published articles
in their issues of February 7th
and March 5th, 2001 citing statistics on
mounting claims and saying plaintiffs lawyers have turned asbestos
into a “court perennial”.

Q: May I see something on waivers of the right to recover from
others in the context of workers’ compensation insurance?

A: As is often the case, a publication from International Risk
Management Institute in Dallas was most informative. Best was the
section titled “Workers Compensation Waivers of Subrogation” in
their manual IRMI Workers Comp: A Complete Guide to Coverage, Laws,
and Cost Containment.

Q: I own a small business, and my property and liability insurance
premiums represent a large part of my expenses. Are insurance
companies’ profits higher than those of most industries?

A: Of course, numbers and statistics can be tricky to interpret
sensibly, but a table developed by the National Association of
Insurance Commissioners and reproduced in the February 21, 2000
issue of Property Insurance Report seemed to belie huge insurer
profits. The chart shows Rates of Return on Net Worth for commercial
multi-peril insurers compared to the return for “Fortune
All-Industry”. The figure given for insurers for 1987-1998 is 5.8;
for all-industry the number is 12.8.

Q: I am calling from Alabama. Is there a Massachusetts law governing
the process for filing claims under disability insurance, and for
the payment of such claims?

A: We faxed this caller subsections A, 5-9 of section 108 of chapter
175 of the Massachusetts General Laws.

We utilized our print copy of the Massachusetts laws for this
person. We also have a complete set of Massachusetts insurance
regulations. For similar questions, we often consult the
newly-revamped Massachusetts Division of Insurance website, found at
. Experiment with it a little, and
you will find a wealth of information of potential interest to
insurance professionals and consumers alike. Most state insurance
departments maintain websites—call us if you’d like any addresses.

Q: There was a story in my local newspaper about a horrible traffic
accident involving a pick-up truck. Just how many accidents a year
involve small trucks, and are they involved in a disproportionate
share of accidents?

A: The 2000 edition of the Insurance Information Institute’s Fact
Book includes a chart entitled  “Motor Vehicle  Crashes by
Vehicle Type” utilizing data from the US Department of
Transportation and the National Highway Traffic Safety
Administration. In 1997, the rate of property damage- only accidents
for passenger cars was 4,104 per 100,000 registered vehicles, while
the rate was only 3,439 per 100,000 registered light trucks.
However, the corresponding rates for fatal crashes were 24.11 and

Q: Recently I attended a meeting and the speaker referred to the
“Florida case” in the context of bank sales of insurance. I didn’t
want to speak up, as everyone else seemed to know what case he was
talking about, but what case WAS he talking about?

A: Chances are good that the case referred to is that one known
officially as Barnett Bank of Marion County, N.A. v Gallagher 43
F.3d 631 (11th
circuit 1995). The treatise Insurance Activities of Banks  by
Karol K. Sparks indicates “The Barnett decision effectively
eliminated antiaffilation laws as to section 92…A state law fails if
it prevents or significantly interferes with the ability of national
banks to sell insurance from small towns”.

Q: How involved are insurance companies with retirement plans and
retirement plan investments?

A: The ACLI (American Council of Life Insurance) Life Insurance Fact
Book 1999 provided two relevant tables for this visitor, “Retirement
Plans Held by Life Insurers by Type (1998), and “Assets Held in
Retirement Plans with Selected Financial Institutions”.

Q: Enclosed please find insurance policies on my parents we
discussed on the phone last week.     I have
been unable to locate these insurance companies. My bother and I
hope you can.

A: This caller sent copies of policies dating in the 1940s from two
different life insurance companies. One of the companies was still
in business under the same name, but the other had merged or been
acquired several times in the past decades: we were able to trace it
to its current incarnation through use of successive AM Best Life

Q: What is the Insurance Fraud Bureau? What does it do? Does it do a
lot of whatever it does?

A: Articles from The Standard and The Insurance Times, along with
other sources, provided both background and statistical information
on the “IFB”. Operational as of May, 1991, the bureau represents a
rare public/private partnership between the insurance industry, the
Massachusetts Attorney General, and other state offices. It is a
central resource for fighting insurance fraud. As of June 1999,
2,921 of a total of 15,105 referrals received from insurance
companies and from a hotline (1-800-323-7283) had been selected for
investigation. Those investigations resulted in 562 indictments and
complaints, and 296 convictions. It is estimated that the activities
of the IFB, combined with Massachusetts auto insurance reforms,
saved $1 billion during the past decade. We also have information
about insurance fraud prevention and detection activities in other

Q: I am considering the possibility of selling my insurance agency
during the next year or so. What can I look at to give me some idea
of how my agency compares with its peers? I am particularly
interested in knowing if I represent more or fewer insurance
companies than other agents.

A: A variety of publications were provided for perusal, among them
issues of the Middleton Letter. In the August 1999 publication of
that newsletter it is indicated that the average agency responding
to their survey represented 7.4 commercial carriers (down from 8 the
prior year) and 6.1 personal lines companies (roughly the same as
the prior year). Close to 70% of premium volume was placed with the
top three markets, compared with 64% the prior year—a change
attributed to industry consolidation. It can’t hurt to be well
informed before retaining legal assistance for such an undertaking!

Q: Is there a federal law requiring insurance agents to maintain
premium trust fund accounts?

A: There is no federal law on this subject, but we provided a chart
published by the National Association of Insurance Commissioners
that lists and summarizes pertinent laws and regulations on a
state-by-state basis.

Q: The salvage industry is of interest to me. How can I identify the
companies who are active in the field and learn about them?

A: The list of articles produced through a search of our database on
this subject was lengthy and productive. As indicated in the August,
1999 issue of Claims magazine, the word salvage should not evoke
just wrecked cars, rusted machinery, and algae-covered boats; their
directory of salvage specialists yields many internet addresses
along with more traditional street addresses and telephone numbers.

Q: I’m desperately in need of an explanation of what I see called
“funding agreements”. What the heck are they? My on-line search has
not been productive.

A: This caller was very happy to see two reports by Moody’s
Investors Service, one published in December of 1998 and one in
April of 1999, which give an excellent overview of such agreements.
A search of our database produced a list of articles in which recent
problems of some “FA” issuers were highlighted.

Q: I recently read a brief description of the Federal Riot
Reinsurance Program. Can you provide any information on events that
might have triggered payments under the program, and data on what
those payouts were?

A: We found in our files an article published in the June 23, 1979
issue of The Insurance Advocate
entitled “Federal Riot Reinsurance—the Payout for the New York
Blackout”. Testimony given Gloria Jimenez, then Federal Insurance
Administrator, included data indicating total reported riot losses
due to the blackout of almost $12.9 million and Federal Riot
Reinsurance payments of a bit more than $3.1 million

Q: Is there anything you can show me which will indicate how much of
the average consumer’s expenses are accounted for by insurance

A: This inquiry is right up the alley of our friends at the
Insurance Information Institute, and they did not disappoint. In the
1999 edition of their Fact Book
a table, based upon data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
for 1995, shows insurance expenditures accounted for 6.8% of average
household expenses. The statistics were further broken out by line
of insurance, with health insurance highest at 2.% and auto
insurance second at 2.2%

Q: Please search your files and let me know what is the earliest
edition of the CGL form that you have.

A: The earliest form we have in our files is dated December 1, 1947,
although we find references to edition dates of January 11, 1943 and
February 1, 1943. If anyone has an earlier one, we would be very
grateful for a copy!

Q: My employer wants me to get up to speed on current developments
in the field of Directors’ and Officers’ Liability Insurance. Can
you help steer me in the right direction?

A: We identified a number of items of interest to this person from a
variety of sources. In addition to overview discussions of the D&O
market, articles addressing the effects of the Private Securities
Reform Act of 1995 and Year 2000 concerns were made available.

Q: I’m here to look at the 1983 AM Best Report on AFIA.

A: The AM Best Company included a blurb on AFIA in the section
entitled “Underwriting Organizations and Combination Policies” in
their 1983 book, but no report since this was a cooperative effort
of 6 member insurers and not an insurance company itself. We helped
fill in the AFIA profile by showing this patron an article from the
August, 1981 issue of Institutional Investor
(“AFIA Mounts its International Challenge”) and one from the July,
1984 issue of that journal, “CIGNA’s Big Gamble on AFIA.

Q: I recall that sometime in the 1980s a popular magazine (as
contrasted with insurance industry trade magazines) published an
article on the general unavailability of insurance coverage. I’d
like to read it now to see if it gives me any perspective on the
current marketplace. Do you know what I’m talking about?

A: Time magazine’s cover story of March 24, 1986, “Sorry, America,
Your Insurance Has Been Cancelled” was provided this visitor and
seemed to fit the bill.

Q: I believe the first million dollar award by a jury was made
sometime in the 1960s. Can you find something in writing confirming
(or correcting) my off-hand impression? Circumstances of the award
would also be of interest.

A: Jury Verdict Research, Inc., of Solon, Ohio is a prime source for
published information on jury awards. “JVR” indicates that the first
such award was made in 1962 to actor John Henry Faulk who claimed he
was blackballed after being labeled a communist in the 1950s.
Compensatory damages in the amount of $1,000,000 and punitive
damages of $2,500,000 were later remitted to $400,000 and $50,000,

Q: How and where can I obtain a copy of the NAIC’s Casualty
Actuarial (Technical) Task Force Clarification of Revised ALAE

A: This document is available through the website of the NAIC
(National Association of Insurance Commissioners) at
We also found two inquiries which had been submitted to the NAIC
Director of Research, and the responses to those inquiries. They
help clarify subjects such as differentiating between
of a claim and
of a claim and the degree to which medical cost containment and
utilization review expenses should be reported as ALAE.

Q: Please send me the Massachusetts law pertaining to Medicaid real
estate liens for those who have purchased long-term care insurance.

A: Massachusetts Division of Medical Assistance regulations state
that “No recovery for nursing facility or other long-term-care
services may be made under 130 CMR 501.910( C) if the recipient…on
the date of admission to a long-term care institution had
long-term-care insurance whose coverage met the requirements of 211
CMR 65.00.” We were and always are happy to provide a copy of 211
CMR 65.00.

Q: Would you please send me a representative “direct action”
statute? I understand such statutes enable plaintiffs to commence
actions directly against a tortfeasor’s liability insurer.

A: We provided this patron with a copy of Rhode Island law Chapter 7
(“Liability Insurance”), sections 27-7-1 and 27-7-2, “Direct
liability of insurer” and “Rights of action against insurer”. We
also referred them to an article in the May 15, 1998 issue of
Insurance Litigation Reporter,
entitled “Direct Actions – Current Developments”. The
article provides a good narrative description of the subject as well
as a state-by-state survey of related laws and cases.

Q: Has anyone published loss ratio data by industry? We would like
if possible to know the loss ratio associated with the insurance of
hotel and motel businesses.

A: Rough Notes
magazine regularly publishes such data in their “Regional Target
Markets” section. The data, and data on niche markets in general, is
produced by Insurance Market Research Corp. at 39 E. Hanover Ave.,
Morris Plains, NJ 07950 (201-898-4706). The loss ratio they reported
for the universe of approximately 42,700 establishments in 1996 was
69.7%, “making careful selection of risk imperative.”

Q: Can you assist me in finding some current items to read
concerning the computation of an insurance agency’s value for
acquisition purposes?

A: A search run on our database index of articles produced a list of
23 pertinent items which were published in 1997 or 1998—our
interpretation of “current” for this question. The Hales Report
yielded some very likely-sounding references, as did other sources
such as the
Middleton Letter
Best’s Review.

Q: I have been employed by a large high-tech company for many years,
but am considering the option of striking out on my own. Would it be
possible for me to come in and read something about the liability
exposures of computer consultants?

A: This person seemed very alert to what must be considered when
contemplating a career change such as he described! He spent a
morning reviewing items describing typical claims and exposures, and
then researched the coverage available for those exposures.

Q: Is it possible to look at copies of insurance forms that are no
longer in current use? I am sending a list of policy forms with
“MLB” prefixes, all of which are dated between 1966 and 1973.

A: We have an extensive collection of outdated standard
policy forms, and could find all of the forms listed.

Q: I am looking for a sample “defense only”
insurance policy: can you provide me with such?

A: We located and provided a specimen policy
entitled Employment Practices Legal Expense Insurance which seemed to fit the
bill. This Lloyd’s form, similar to many directors’ and officers’ liability
forms, provides for reimbursement of payments actually made by the insured, and
does not contemplate the insurer assuming the duty to defend lawsuits.

Q: My mother suggested we purchase flood
insurance for our home. While we do live on the coast, I have never heard of
flooding in our area, is it really necessary?

A: We pointed this patron in the direction of
the National Flood Insurance Plan website. According to the Plan, “Everyone
lives in a flood zone – it’s just a question of whether you live in a low,
moderate or high risk area.” They have a flood risk assessment tool right on
their website where you can enter your address in to help gauge your risk. For
fast facts on floods and flood insurance check the website at:

Q: I am looking for the oldest standard
commercial umbrella policy, what is the earliest version I can get?

A: Using old pages from the Umbrella Book and
the 9/02/00 edition of Insurance Advocate magazine, we determined that the
Insurance Services Office didn’t promulgate a standard commercial umbrella form
until 2000, although in 1986 they did provide advisory language for companies
drafting their own umbrella policies.

Q: A New York Times article I was reading
listed Massachusetts as one of the states that allows children up to the age of
25 to stay on their parents’ health plans. Is that true? If so, what law can I
cite when talking to my insurance company?

A: As of January 1, 2007, this is indeed
true: looking at Massachusetts General Laws Chapter 175, Section 108, subsection
3 you can see that it is a part of the new universal health care bill. To better
understand all of the changes you can read chapter 58 of the 2006 Session Laws.

Q: Are many claims typically made alleging
malpractice against physician assistants (I am one)? How does the rate of such
claims compare with the rate of claims against physicians?

A: Using the first 17 years of data available
from the National Practitioner Data Bank (1991-2007), the writer of a doctoral
dissertation (a summary of which is available through the Physician Assistant
Experts Network, LLC) summarized “…the cost of malpractice payments in 2008
dollars exceeded $74 billion dollars from 1991-2007 for PAs, APNs [Advanced
Practice Nurses] and physicians alone…of this $74 billion, only $245 million
were PA malpractice payments…there was one malpractice payment for every 32.5
PAs while there was one for every 2.7 physicians”. We left it to the inquirer to
check the original source of the data (the NPDA) if she felt it advisable since,
as we all know, data is subject to varying interpretations.

Q: I am looking for information available
for research into the Boston Protective Department. Is any of this information
available in your library?

A: Our collection includes the annual reports
of the Protective Department for many years beginning in 1875. Anyone is welcome
to come in and access this collection.

Q: I overheard discussion of a
Massachusetts company or association referred to as the “PCI”: I believe it has
something to do with community development. Can you tell me what it is?

A: In 1999, as a response to state
legislation, thirteen Massachusetts-based property/casualty insurance companies
established the Property and Casualty Initiative, LLC (PCI) as a state wide
community loan fund. Complete information about the PCI can be found on their
website at

Q: Can you provide a state-by-state survey
of the discoverability of liability insurance available to defendants?

A: We provided an article published in a 2006
issue of The Journal of Insurance Regulation of the National Association of
Insurance Commissioners that stated 13 states have explicit pertinent laws (some
mandating discoverability, some not). We also sent a summary of case law in all

Q: I was recently in an automobile accident
that has been determined to be entirely the fault of the other driver. I really
love my car, and I want to be able to drive one like it while my car is being
repaired. The other person’s insurance company wants to allow me only $30 per
day for a rental. Can they do that?

A: In a letter dated February 23, 2003,
Victor A. Fanikos , who was at that time Assistant General Counsel at the
Massachusetts Division of Insurance addressed this situation. He stated that
regarding Part 4 (Damage to Someone Else’s Property) of the Massachusetts
Automobile Policy, “It appears that the general rule in the United States…is
‘Damages for loss of a motor vehicle may be measured by the cost of hiring or
renting a similar motor vehicle while repairs are being made’”. He went on to
say that in his years with the Division it has been the custom and practice of
insurance companies to “expect that a person who owned a Chevrolet would rent a
Chevrolet and a person who owned a Cadillac or Lincoln would rent a Cadillac or
Lincoln”. He also noted that there is no minimum or maximum per day dollar limit
to the damages that an insurance company must pay under Part 4 of the
Massachusetts Automobile Insurance Policy. If you would like to get a copy of
Mr. Fanikos’s letter in full, or a copy of the case he identified as the leading
Massachusetts case on this subject, just email us.

Q: I am a life insurance producer, and one
of my rather elderly clients has been approached by someone offering to
facilitate a “life settlement” arrangement for them. They know nothing about
such arrangements, and I, not being involved in such transactions myself, would
like to understand the concept better, as well as to give my client something to
read that isn’t from the settlement-seller but is generic and balanced. I am
wary, especially since the life settlement person is telling me that I will
collect a large commission if the deal is consummated. Can you help?

A: We have a wealth of information on the
life settlement concept and industry. This caller chose some articles from a
26-page index produced by our propriety journal database on the subject and we
were happy to send them, along with an invitation to come in and look at
additional materials of potential value. It’s always gratifying to help someone
who is looking out for their clients so conscientiously!

Q: A friend of mine is very active in a
local target shooting club, and the club would like to participate in
competitive events with other such clubs. In order to do so, they are being
required to demonstrate that they have a liability insurance policy in force.
They don’t. Can you give me the names of any insurance companies that might be
able and willing to provide such coverage in [state was named]?

A: We were able to send this consumer a list
of approximately 20 firms that list such coverage as being among their
capabilities in the state of interest. Many of these firms were brokers or
agencies, so it is likely that the number of actual insurance companies in the
marketplace is fewer, but it was nonetheless felt that contacting the entities
that were included on the list should facilitate contact with someone who could

Q: I have been asked about demographics of insurance
agencies. I’ve searched the BLS and they don’t appear to have this type of
information do you have any other suggestions?

A: Indeed we did! We provided the patron with information
from a National Underwriter/Deloitte co-sponsored study on producer satisfaction
which happened to have some demographic information and then provided her with a
slightly more thorough discussion from The Independent Insurance Agents and
Brokers of America diversity section:
page 12 had a
lovely graph with information.

Q: I know that UnitedHealth Group got in trouble for their
reimbursement techniques. Is it possible to find the documents relating to that

A: Actually this information was readily available. There is
a whole website dedicated to this class action with pdfs of a number of
pertinent documents available:

Q: I know that in the antebellum period it was possible to
buy insurance on slaves. Do you have a sample of a policy like that?

A: We do have a sample of just such a policy. It is found in
a book entitled History of Insurance in Philadelphia for Two Centuries
(1683-1882). The book notes that such policies were not issued in Pennsylvania,
but some Philadelphia companies offered them to insureds in the deep south. This
book, which also includes, among other things, a translated Italian marine
policy from 1385 is available for “adoption” through our adopt a book program.

Q: Do you have anything actually interesting to read?

A: Of course we’d like to say that all of our materials are
interesting but we can understand that sometimes the titles overlap and start to
blur. . . Reinsurance Practice and the Law, The Law of Reinsurance, Modern
Reinsurance Law and Practice, Reinsurance in Practice. There are some real gems
hidden in our general collection though. Take the last reinsurance book listed
for example, there is a great exchange of letters in the front which start:
“Assuming that you have not succumbed to one or another of the diseases that
often accompany a misspent life. . .” How can you not want to continue reading?
There have also been some notably interesting articles over the years, including
a January 2003 article published in Contingencies entitled One-Armed Bandit or
Robin Hood: Assessing the Odds in Las Vegas Casinos or the December 2001 article
in Claims: The Silver Screen’s Seven Most Endearing Claims Adjusters. The
questioner will be relieved to know, though, that we have also started a fiction
section in our collection. So far, we’ve got the entire collection of Sue
Grafton Mysteries starring the former claims adjuster turned detective Kinsey
Millhone. If you have any insurance fiction looking for a home, we’d welcome
your donation!

Q: Do you have any current information on an
organization called the Underwriters Bureau of New England?

A: It’s not uncommon for us to get company tracing questions. Usually it’s
not too difficult a task with all of the resources we have here at the library.
We also get requests to trace agencies and brokers. This is slightly more taxing
but we do have some items in our collection to help. Associations are by far the
most difficult to trace. Through a combination of resources (the Cyclopedia of
Insurance, our Card Catalog, The Proceedings of the Casualty Actuarial Society,
and III’s Factbook), persistence and sheer luck, we were able to figure out that
the Underwriters Bureau of New England merged into what is now the Insurance
Services Office.

Q: I’m working on a complex environmental case
involving the release of some substances. We’re trying to figure out if we have
insurance coverage. Do you have a list of what substances are considered to be

A: It turns out we had two items that fit the bill. Munich Reinsurance kindly
sends us a copy of their publication: Environmental Coverage Case Law every
year. In their publication, they have a section called “what is a pollutant”
where they list a number of substances and then cite related cases and their
findings. The International Risk Management Institute Also has a publication
which provides similar information.

Q: Do you have anything actually interesting to read?
(Yes, we’re totally recycling this question)

A: Currently topping our list is the first ever satire edition of The
Insurance Journal (published in August). We have extra copies if you’re
interested, or you can

go to their website
and read it there. We can also recommend Bet Your Life,
a Novel by Richard Dooling. We don’t want to give too much away, but it involves
viatical settlements. As always, if you have any insurance materials (fiction,
non-fiction, periodicals etc) looking for a home, we’d welcome your donation!