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Commercial Insurance.

Commercial Insurance Reviewer: Bill Roach, Professor, School of Business, Washburn University.

The authors prepared Commercial Insurance (CI) for the third of three Insurance Institute of America (IIA) courses in general insurance. The three course sequence is part of one of the IIA certification programs. The first course covers the principles of insurance; the second covers personal insurance coverages. The authors designed CI to be used in conjunction with a course guide: thus CI is not a complete text by itself.

In the preface, the authors note that

"the new Institute-published texts are addressed specifically to INS students who work in the insurance industry and need a different approach to help them understand the industry of which they are a part."

The preface did not elaborate any further on the needs of INS students, but presumably those enrolling in these courses have just started their careers in the insurance industry. Thus while the INS students are newcomers to the insurance industry, they have needs that are much more specific than most college students studying insurance; few college students have the opportunity to devote an entire course to something as specialized as commercial insurance.

To be fair, the only review of CI that counts is the consensus of students enrolled in the INS program. Does the text meet their needs? Does it enable them to pass examinations and earn certification? This reviewer cannot address these issues; instead the book is reviewed as a potential reference book or professional reading for the insurance practitioner.

As a Reference

The small size of CI precludes depth of coverage. CI is from 1/3 to 1/2 the size of typical insurance references. Most chapters do not include a bibliography. Informally and implicitly, the text references commonly used insurance forms, but it does not give citations to the insurance literature or case law. Exhibits in the text usually refer to other IIA Texts. The bibliography at the end of the text includes just four entries.

CI includes one index, a subject index. The subject index lists about 900 topics. Each topic list page references to about 1.1 pages of text. CI has no separate author or case law indices. The table below compares CI to two popular insurance references: Mehr and Cammack Principles of Insurance (POI) and Bickelhaupt's General Insurance (GI).

As Professional Reading

This reviewer found no inaccuracies in CI. Indeed, the list of contributors/reviewers reads like Who's Who In Insurance. CI provides a brief and accurate introduction to commercial insurance. It is suitable for use in one quarter / one semester course in commercial insurance. Most competing books are reference books which cannot be covered in a single term.

CI authors try to follow the same outline for each chapter: 1) introduction, 2) exposures, 3) policy sections / forms, 4) summary, 5) rating and appendices. The authors do not implement this organization consistently and uniformly. CI examines the rating of only one coverage, general liability, in detail. The authors explain that they feel that "most INS candidates are not required to know the detail of rating each major line of insurance."

The CI authors provide introductions of varying length and composition. The chapter on los of business income includes no introduction. Sometimes the introduction includes historical material, usually anecdotal rather than systematic. Frequently the introduction includes only a short definition of the coverage as in the chapters on commercial crime insurance and commercial general liability.

Because insurance texts must use specific, contractual language to refer to perils, coverages, etc., authors of insurance texts do not have the same discretion that other authors have in matters of style. Because of insurance "boiler plate" insurance authors cannot comply with rules of style as easily as other writers. Nevertheless, the reviewer examined CI for compliance with the rules in The Elements of Style by Strunk and White. The quality of the writing in CI varied significantly by author. From the preface, the reviewer was able to determine generally which author wrote which section of the book. Some of the authors consistently observed the rules of style; some did not.

IIA appears to have spent very little money on editing, design and production of CI. The typography is dull. There is little variation in the physical appearance of the book as one pages through it. CI uses very little color or white space. Many of the exhibits add little to the text; they appear to serve book design purposes rather than pedagogic purposes.


The authors of CI focus on the INS student. Their success in focusing on the market means that CI is inappropriate for a more general audience.
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Article Details
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Author:Roach, Bill
Publication:Journal of Risk and Insurance
Article Type:Book Review
Date:Sep 1, 1989
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