Being President of Merlin Law Group is very humbling. The above photo shows three great property insurance attorneys, Mike Duffy, Christina Phillips, and Ed Eshoo; I defy anybody to say there are better in the Midwest.

We have great insurance lawyers who limit their practice to representing policyholders. I have been visiting with them as we celebrate our office holiday parties and I judge each office’s Ugly Christmas Sweater contest. I landed in Chicago yesterday just in time to phone into a United Policyholders Board of Directors meeting and thought about how far the insurance industry has come since the Great Chicago Fire while listening to the great deeds United Policyholders has been doing for policyholders throughout the United States.

The insurance industry struggled following the Great Chicago Fire. According to the Encyclopedia of Chicago:

While Chicago struggled for survival, the insurance industry reeled from the calamitous impact of the fire. It was estimated that less than 50% of the damage was insured with a total of 182 insurance companies. Sixty-eight companies failed immediately and 83 were able to pay their losses only in part, leaving only 31 that met all of their obligations. It became glaringly obvious that the insurance industry was totally unprepared to deal with such a catastrophe.

But, by the most generous estimate, the insurance industry paid for less than a third of the total fire damage. Countless businesses and homeowners were denied their insurance claims and were never able to start over.

Modern insurance regulation plays an important role in preventing the bankruptcy of insurers. At the same time, some insurance companies which exist even until today deserve credit:

The Hartford Fire Insurance Company was one of the 31 companies that paid all of its claims, which totaled nearly $2 million. The company’s total assets at the time were less than $1.7 million.

Positive Thought of The Day

I’m impressed with the people from Chicago. Hollywood is hype, New York is talk, Chicago is work.
—Michael Douglas