Building an insurance library for all – Can you help?

I have been a bit of Bowerbird when it comes to books on insurance. I have retained every one used through my studies and have purchased a large number over the years. I find them useful as I go back to them time and time again for some reason or other.

When I was with GAB Robins in Melbourne during the 1990s, Mrs Iris Salmon, who worked with me and was a great educator within the loss adjusting fraternity, gave me her and her husband’s entire library once they retired and moved into their retirement home. When I left the company to start up LMI, I was not sure if Iris had given the books to me personally or to the company. It never mattered to this point. I was unsure and so I left them behind.

A few years later, I received a phone call from one of the GAB team advising that the Melbourne office was changing locations and as the new premises were not as big, the then manager had decided to dump the entire library and it was in a dumpster. I rushed into the city to explain the importance of the collection and to offer to buy it. By the time I got there, the dumpster was gone and the books on a very wide range of insurance subjects were gone forever. I really cried. To me, it was such a waste.

I also missed out on a huge collection of articles and papers which were thrown out by another great student of insurance when he retired. I am sure that many others collections of people who have retired or died have been similarly lost. The trouble is that much of this material is extremely difficult to find and yet can be invaluable to those that remain in the industry.

On the other hand I have been blessed with the donation of some wonderful books that have been given to me. The biggest collection was 55 archive boxes of books given to me by Zurich Insurance when they merged the head office of Associated Marine into their Melbourne operation. They knew I would like after the books and put them to good use. To make the most of this generous act, I am having this collection plus all of my own catalogued and there will shortly be a link to the entire database of books, magazines, articles etc from the LMI Group website and this blog so that anyone within the insurance industry or elsewhere that needs access will be able to gain it.

Last week Mrs Pamela Spratt, the widow of Walter Spratt, the highly regarded insurance expert, kindly gave me all the books and articles that Walter had in their home. This was very kind of her and to me it is helping build a very important resource. Mrs Spratt who baked some delicious scones for my visit and we had a good chat. She and her family were very pleased that the books were going to a good home and would be well looked after and used and not end up in some op shop or in a council tip.

Others too have been kind and passed on insurance books etc and these include Max Salveson, Ivan Vojlay, Martin Walker, The Australasian Institute of Chartered Loss Adjusters, Tony Morgan (with copies of his books), and John Quinn. John replaced my copy of Peverett on Insurance Claims which was borrowed by someone and not returned. In fact, I have lost more copies of this book than any other I have ever owned.

The library is proving of great benefit as Associate Professor Neil Myhre and I as we develop and write the course material for the new Master of Insurance Law and Practice. It will also be of use to the students.

Could I ask that if you have, or know someone who has, insurance text books, articles, lecture notes, old tarrifs, journals and or the histories of any insurer or entity from the insurance entity that they no longer need and or would like to donate to this library please let me know and I will arrange its collection and cataloguing.  To contact  me please use the “Contact Me” button above.

One of the series of books I am trying to a full set of is “Insurance in Australasia”. This is a yearbook of who was trading in insurance during that year. Once I have a complete set, I intend to complete a family tree of births, mergers, demergers, name changes, and departures of all the insurers in the Australian and New Zealand markets from 1900, which I have been working on for some time.

We already have by far and away the largest collection of insurance policies (over 13,000) in www.policycomparison.com but again if you have any or know of anyone that does have some old ones tucked away, please let me know. We do not want any of this material to be lost. By the way, we are now building this policy library for other countries as well.

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