Merlin Law Group attorneys have an advantage over many other law firms and lawyers because we invest in an extensive insurance law reference library and with an attorney, Ruck DeMinico, who holds a library science degree and oversees this reference resource. During his presentation at NAPIA‘s mid-year meeting, insurance author and coverage expert Bill Wilson claimed that he finds the best insurance coverage discussion in IRMI.

What is IRMI?

International Risk Management Institute, Inc., now known as IRMI, was founded in 1978 primarily to educate risk managers, insurance agents/brokers, underwriters, and other insurance professionals by conducting seminars. In conjunction with these programs, risk and insurance publications were developed to provide what we felt was much-needed information in an evolving industry. So popular were these publications that, by the mid-1980s, publishing had become our primary focus.

Today, IRMI publishes the most comprehensive (and, we think, practical) risk and insurance library of any publisher. No longer in print form, the IRMI KnowledgeBase has expanded to more than 75,000 pages and is available online through our own platform, IRMI Online, and as part of Vertafore’s ReferenceConnect service (formerly SilverPlume). Our subscriber family encompasses thousands of risk, insurance, and legal professionals serving all industries across the globe.

Let me show you an example of how IRMI can help making a coverage analysis by asking one question:

Does vandalism include a fire set by vandals or uninvited individuals of a vacant building which has an exclusion for vandalism?

There are some legal cases where courts found the vandalism exclusion of a vacant building to apply despite fire being an almost universally recognized covered cause of loss. This is just a small part of the discussion in IRMI which could save the day for the policyholder:

Fire Set by Vandals. Commercial property insurance policies are universally understood to be, first and foremost, fire insurance policies. Under a commercial property policy, virtually any loss due to fire is and should be covered. The only exceptions that come to mind are for fire loss that results from war (since the exclusion of loss due to war and military action does not contain an exception for ensuing fire) and arson by the insured. Furthermore, the insurance industry understands “fire” and “vandalism” to be separate and distinct causes of loss. They are listed as separate causes of loss in the two named perils causes of loss forms that individually list and describe covered causes of loss in standard commercial property policies. There is nothing in the language of the vandalism cause of loss provision in those two forms stating or even suggesting that a fire set by vandals constitutes “vandalism” instead of “fire,” although the form drafters have had every opportunity to say so plainly in any of the six successive editions of the ISO causes of loss forms—if that were the intent.

Lawyers representing insurance companies in insurance coverage cases hate to see these kinds of quotes in our legal briefs—especially if their own insurance company clients subscribe to IRMI, which most large reputable insurance carriers do at the home office level. The late policyholder attorney, Eugene Anderson, told me that for the same reason judges should not expect to learn how medicine is practiced by reading medical malpractice cases, judges should not expect to learn how insurance is supposed to work by reading insurance coverage cases. However, how often do we hear anything other than case law when attorneys give speeches about insurance topics?

So, if you want to be among the best insurance coverage nerds helping policyholders, do yourself and your clients a favor, follow Bill Wilson’s advice and subscribe to IRMI. You should also subscribe to Wilson’s blog and purchase his insurance coverage book.

Thought For The Day

Books constitute capital. A library book lasts as long as a house, for hundreds of years. It is not, then, an article of mere consumption but fairly of capital, and often in the case of professional men, setting out in life, it is their only capital.
—Thomas Jefferson