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Insurance Archaeology

Insurance Archaeology is the reconstruction and analysis of old insurance coverage. It offers the potential for the re-discovery of lost insurance documents that may respond to recently asserted claims. "Long-tail" or "latent injury" claims may ultimately threaten entire enterprises. Such threats fade with the successful reconstruction of the historical insurance asset.

In the 21st Century, the insurance industry has softened its stance of the late 1980s and 1990s of excluding coverage for risks that may give rise to latent injury claims. Even considering so-called "prospective" insurance products however, which may in any event be prohibitively expensive, it is still critical that old years are researched and documented.

To achieve that objective, we consider it important to be students of insurance history and we have made it our business to know the insurance industry relationships that were forged in the past and used to effect insurance cover in the United States, United Kingdom and Internationally.

We know who retained records and, perhaps more importantly, who the current custodian is. We have built up a rapport with personnel in the insurance broking 'fraternity'. If you purchased coverage in the London Market, our U.K. office has a daily personal contact with pertinent records sources and can obtain access to unique documentation in an expeditious and cost effective manner.

Insurance Reconstruction

The goals of the reconstruction phase of an insurance archaeology project are as follows:

  • Review client policyholder records. These generally contain direct evidence of insurance coverage such as a policy or other compelling evidence. They almost always contain secondary evidence of coverage and leads to additional avenues for our archaeologists to pursue.
  • Contact and establish a dialogue with all brokers identified as having placed insurance coverage for our client.
  • Utilize RM Fields internal data to supplement the results of our client and external records research. Over the last 25 years we have invested heavily in building up historical insurance coverage data. As a result we can tap a resource (in hard copy and/or electronic format) that is unique in its content and accessibilty.
  • Pay close attention to our client's operation and customer base. In this way we can develop information regarding third parties to whom evidence of insurance was supplied. A prime example may arise where our client contracted with the US government. Many federal agencies retain voluminous information on their contracts with global industry. In some cases they have kept copies of original insurance policies dating as far back as the 1940s.

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Insurance Audit and Work Product Options

An insurance audit provides the policyholder and its external professional counselors with a complete picture of the available insurance coverage. It takes into account items impairing the integrity of the insurance asset such as insurer insolvency or prior settlements.

A full audit has three main components:

  • Master policy File (MPF) - The MPF comprises all information amassed for each policy. Most clients now prefer to have the MPF available electronically and we routinely scan the policy evidence into digital files in portable document format (pdf).

  • Graphic Coverage Chart - The Coverage chart is generally a bar chart depicting the coverage configuration (primary and excess layers by limits of liability (y axis) and policy period (x axis)) and available documentary evidence. The charts can also be tailored to reflect the coverage that may be afforded for any type of latent injury claim. (See also case studies) If a specific coverage issue in a particular jurisdiction is your concern the coverage chart can be adapted to show pertinent policy provisions.

  • Policy by Policy Analysis - Each policy, broking slip, certificate, cover note or other insurance instrument is reviewed together with any other supporting evidence. The product of the analysis is a report prepared (using one or more of our work product options) according to the factual situation faced by our client. It is a flexible tool and is interactive with other applications such as the Coverage Chart and Master Policy File.
Work Product Options
  • Database of Coverage Information - R.M. Fields offers an Access¬©-based custom-designed database that allows users quick and easy access to information concerning their historic insurance program. The database was originally programmed to handle unique or arcane insurance data (such as Lloyd's Brokers placing slips) elicited from London Market records sources. In particular, the participation or market security module provides a valuable resource for policyholders and counsel alike. This section of the database allows the user to track the details of the syndicates and companies underwriting your insurance. The database has been 'tweaked' over time so that it can handle domestic U.S. insurances in as user friendly a manner as it does London Market insurances.

    The database provides output ranging from basic schedules of insurance to complex reports responsive to your search criteria. It includes fields large enough to accommodate the full text of policy provisions and is updateable, allowing it to become your desktop "file cabinet" of insurance coverage information.

  • ARK - Our work product has evolved from hardcopy binders to pdfs (into which the scanned Master Policy File materials are converted). We decided to use a central document (usually the Coverage Chart) as a means of linking the evidence and/or our analysis together. We find that this makes insurance policy review and analysis eminently more intuitive, interactive and time efficient because finding the policies or specific language therein and/or analysis for a particular policy is now simply a matter of clicking the right box on the chart.

Whether you are giving notice, analyzing the impact of insurer insolvencies, taking part in settlement discussions or litigating with your insurance carriers, our work product options work for you to uncomplicate each and every one of these tasks.

Insurer Solvency & History

R.M. Fields monitors transactions affecting our clients' insurers. We supply information identifying the original carrier and the contact information for the current group or its agents. We keep a close watch on the fiscal condition of insurers underwriting in the liability insurance marketplace. In the London Market, we identify run-off agencies, liquidators,claims offices, and scheme of arrangment details.

Litigation Support and Expert Testimony

We work extensively with lawyers worldwide to provide support in complex insurance coverage litigation. Both in-house and outside counsel recognize the cost effectiveness of having the know-how provided by insurance coverage experts in determining the existence and authenticity of historic insurance coverage.

Public Agency Cost Recovery Services

We work with public agencies reponsible for pollution remediation. We help them in identifying and analyzing the insurance assets available to PRPs with statutorily imposed cleanup responsibility.