With insurance being such a complex product, you never stop learning and we build our knowledge from the shoulders of those that came before.
Recently I have had the need to ring a senior insurance expert for advice and have learnt that they have retired and while they are still happy to assist where they can, they have advised me that they have dumped all the reference files that they had built up over a lifetime.
This is not a new phenomenon. It is often at the insistence of their spouse or just a need to make a symbolic break from the past that they make the trip to the recycle centre.
The first time I came across this was nearly 18 years ago. John and Iris Salmon, both very talented loss adjusters and very supportive educators for the Chartered Institute of Loss Adjusters, had an large collection of text books and articles. With downsizing their home to spend their retirement on the Mornington Peninsula, Iris came to my office, at that time with one of the international loss adjusting firms, and said she would like me to have them. I gratefully took the books and added them to the firms library which I put into a room, which I named the Iris and John Salmon Library.
When I left the firm to start my own practice, I had to make the call as to whether the books and article collection from Iris and John were given to me or to the firm. I have always tried to do the right thing and so I decided it was probably in my position as the regional leader of the firm, rather than to me personally, that the books were donated and so I left them all behind.
About 3 years after I left the company, the new management decided to move offices and as the new offices were smaller, they decided to trash the library and had them put into a mini skip for dumping. One of the staff rang me to say what was happening and I rushed into the city to offer to buy the lot, only to find that the books and articles, all cross-referenced, and very difficult to replace, were gone. I know that some of the books were over £400 to buy back in the early 1990s.
At LMI, we have an extensive library of books, insurance articles and insurance policies. With the articles and policies, we scan them and have them online so that they are available to students and a valuable resource to the industry. Any books that we have duplicated, we donate to the Victoria Univesity Library who are, themselves, building a good insurance library.
It was equally heartbreaking to hear, as I did twice last week, that a large important collection has again been lost by someone who had recently retired, throwing away their collection.
On the other hand, I would publicly like to thank Interlink in WA, Karl Barduras in Queensland, Ivan Vojlay, Max Salveson and David Goodlad who have kindly donated policies, insurance texts and articles to our insurance library.
Before you throw anything out, no matter how old or seemingly out-of-date, please let me know and one of the LMI team will collect and store it. Naturally, you will have access to your own material, and the entire library, should you ever require it.
You can be assured it will be given a good home and be put to very good use in that it will be helping train future generations of insurance professionals.