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Automation in Insurance.

Automation in Insurance

Automation in Insurance by Robert J. Anderson, Eileen B. Hamburg, William F. McGahan, and Alan J. Turner, (Insurance Institute of America, 1987), 384 pages.

Reviewer: Elizabeth C. Goldin, Assistant Professor of Insurance, Morehouse College

This book was produced to serve as the textbook for the second of the three examinations leading to the Insurance Institute of America's designation, Associate in Automation Management. Its task is to teach people who know the basics of hardware and software and their applications about insurance industry, so that they can apply their knowledge of automation profitably in the industry.

The book presupposes some knowledge of property and liability insurance products, no knowledge of life industry products, and almost no knowledge of industry operations. It does require a lively interest in the subject, though, because it is wordy and dry and marked by distracting copy errors.

In twelve chapters, the various authors describe the following topics: (1) structure of the insurance industry, (2) industry's information needs, (3) objectives that companies try to achieve through automation, (4) how information management through automation applies to the different functions carried out in companies, agencies and service organizations, and (5) identify the kinds of systems that are used in the industry and discuss their interface. As is usual when several independent authors are used to construct a coherent book on a broad topic, some redundance appears, but a student using the book should find this more helpful than otherwise. Automation fans are often uncritically enthusiastic about its benefits, but these authors have been careful to point out disadvantages that may arise from automating particular tasks as well as from choosing particular methods of implementing automation decisions.

From its title, one would not expect this book to be an outstanding introduction to insurance industry operations, but it is. It makes the major tasks undertaken by the people in the various functions very clear in terms of purpose and importance to profitability. A college teacher could use this to build an instructional unit on careers for an introductory course in insurance. Anyone interested in the economics of insuring people and their assets could glean from this book a general understanding of the operational factors that drive company costs. The content of the book exceeds its rather narrowly focused intent.

However, Automation in Insurance suffers from a damning flaw as assigned or optional reading for students outside the Associate program. The editors, rather than the authors, must take the blame for an extraordinary number of copy errors, including inconsistent spelling, capricious punctuation, inappropriate phrasing, and erratic case agreement. Most students need to have their verbal skills strengthened. Serious and frequent copy errors can only reinforce their worst habits in the use of language, and undermine the efforts of any educator who believes that the correct use of language is prerequisite to the transfer of valid information. It really is a betrayal of a trust to publish a book for students (or for anyone, probably) that has not been subjected to rigorous copy editing.
COPYRIGHT 1990 American Risk and Insurance Association, Inc.
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Copyright 1990 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Author:Goldin, Elizabeth C.
Publication:Journal of Risk and Insurance
Article Type:Book Review
Date:Mar 1, 1990
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