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Insurance Law Research

Digests

Use Digests to find cases on specific insurance issues and to find cases interpreting specific policy provisions.

  • West’s Digest System (various locations in library) and on Westlaw
  • Automobile Law Reporter, (CCH) – Digests cases reported in CCH’s Automobile Cases KF 1218 .A6
  • Deskbook Encyclopedia of American Insurance Law KF1159.D47
  • Digest of Maritime Insurance Cases (on Lexis)
  • Directors’ and Officers' Liability Insurance Deskbook KF 1220 .E83 A52 1998; KF 1423 .D58 2011
  • Insurance Law Journal (1939 -1980) (CCH) – Digests the cases reported in CCH’s Insurance Cases (Insurance Law Reporting Service) Law Periodicals I Insurance Law and Litigation Week (Lexis)
  • IRMI’s CGL Reporter (on Lexis)
  • Toxics Law Reporter (BNA/Bloomberglaw online databases) – digests pollution exclusion and pollution insurance cases, as well as hazardous wastes and toxic tort law
  • Words & Phrases KF 156 .W676

Using Digests

Digests are used to find cases by subject area and specific points of law.  Digests are useful in all areas of insurance law research, but are particularly useful in researching common law doctrines (such as the doctrine of reasonable expectations, the rule of contra proferentem, and insurable interest) and judicial construction of policy provisions

To find cases on various insurance common law doctrines, use Westlaw's key number tab or the Custom Digest outline for Insurance on Westlaw or Westlaw.  If using a print West's Digest, consult the Descriptive Word Index.

West's Digest System uses the Topic & Key Number method.  Consult the following topics and key numbers to find cases applying rules of construction to insurance policy provisions:

  • Insurance (217) k 1805-1863
  • Contracts (95) k 143-176

Searching the WP field in case databases on Westlaw Classic is an excellent way to find cases defining words and phrases used in insurance policies.  On Westlaw use the "Advance Search" screens to access the WP field search.  In print, use the Words-Phrases volume to look up cases which define or interpret your desired term.

Words & Phrases, KF 156.W676, is a specialized legal digest, providing citations to cases across the nation which define or interpret words and phrases used in contracts, policies, statutes, regulations and other legal documents.  Simply look up the desired term to find cases construing it.

Annotated Policies

Annotated Policies are used to find cases interpreting and applying specific policy provisions.  The law library has many annotated insurance policies.  The premier annotated insurance policy publication is Miller's Standard Insurance Policies Annotated, which provides citations to cases across the nation interpreting and applying provisions in ISO standard insurance policies.  The law library also has insurance policy annotations published by the ABA.

ALRs

ALRs (American Law Reports) are national surveys of cases on pragmatic legal topics or problems.  ALRs are an excellent source for finding cases applying policy provisions, insurance statutes, or insurance common law doctrines.

ALRs are available in print at KF132.1.A49 and on Westlaw and LexisNexis.  To get an idea of the caselaw surveys available on insurance topics, you can browse the ALR Index on Westlaw for the term "insurance".  Searching the ALR database for the following search string, yields the table of contents to the ALR Index with the term "insurance" highlighted.

CI(index) & insurance & "table of contents"

Clicking on an index entry leads to the titles and citations to relevant ALR articles themselves.

Another good search strategy for the ALR database is to search the title field for "insurance".