The last time I was asked to review a book was when I was a college student freelancing for Seventeen Magazine. I remember being sort of embarrassed for giving a rave review of The Adrian Mole Diaries; but I couldn't help it -- I loved the book. In the same way I feel sort of silly to say that Practising Law Institute's Insurance Regulation Answer Book 2014 is a fantastic book, but I really think it is. Well-written, informative, easy to understand, and interesting (at least to insurance coverage junkies like me).
In the spirit of full disclosure I was asked by PLI itself to review the book, and received a free copy in exchange. It's not quite a junket but a perk is a perk.
To clear up some confusion: despite the British spelling of "practising," PLI is located in New York and the book addresses American law.
I had planned to skip to the parts of the book that discuss the subject I know -- liability insurance. But I immediately realized that this book is written and formatted so clearly that just by skimming it I was learning. For example, I did not know that life insurers are often prohibited from offering property and casualty insurance.
The first chapter provides succinct definitions of the different types of insurance. Ever wondered about the difference between casualty and liability insurance? (I have.) Turns out they are mostly but not completely interchangeable, and the book explains the subtle difference in definitions.
Chapter 2 gets into the heart of the book -- and territory more or less unknown to me. It discusses why states regulate insurance and the limited but changing role that the federal government plays in such regulation.
The rest of the book provides technical information, such as on the different forms of insurance companies, licensing issues, etc. There's also a healthy bit of discussion on reinsurance, which I have always considered a whole different world (sort of like a Superior Court litigator trying to navigate Probate Court).
I doubt that I'll have much use in my practice for the details the book provides -- my cases don't tend to involve international agreements among insurers, for example. But in light of recent developments in insurance law, having an overview is helpful. While I knew that the Federal Insurance Office somehow came into existence within the last few years, I didn't understand why. Now I know its relationship to the Dodd-Frank Act, and how that Act, which was created to regulate banks, also affects insurance.
Overall, I don't recommend this book for the casual insurance coverage practitioner. But for anyone who makes a habit of insurance coverage cases, this book provides valuable background.
Special to my blog-readers: Here's a link with a fifteen percent discount off the book.