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Insurance Law Research Guide: LibGuide - online library support

Online library support for your insurance law research

Welcome to the Insurance Law LibGuide

There is a wide variety of information available to help support your insurance law research.

Many of the resources are available online so that you can access the materials 24/7 from wherever you are located.

Use this guide so that you are aware of all the different types of resources that are available to you. 


Law Librarian @ Exeter

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Lee Snook
Subjects: Law

Finding Resources Using Library Search

Library Search

Search across the print and online collections for books, chapters, articles, journals and lots more. 

Library Search will help you discover books, journals, articles, audio visual material and more on your chosen topic. This is a good place to start when you are beginning to research a topic as you can draw on content from a variety of different sources.

For more in depth research in databases and archives, use the A-Z Databases List.

Expand your search - Key databases

Online research databases are invaluable resources. You can use them to find primary legal materials such as case law and legislation, as well as commentary sources such as books, journals, encyclopediae etc.

As well as holding valuable research materials, they offer sophisticated search interfaces and functionality, with plenty of options to refine your searches and explore related research materials. They can  help you see the law in context by showing how the law has developed overtime and linking you to related commentary, cases and legislation on the area you are researching

Library Search is often a good starting point for introductory material, but if you want to research the global literature on a topic, and go beyond quick full text results, then you should follow up with a database search. You can tailor your search more precisely using all the sophisticated functionality available on the research databases. 


A wide range of legal databases are available to you. Use the Law Databases in the Databases A-Z List to select the specific resource source you require.   

They provide full text access to books, journal articles, reports, case law, legislation, official publications and more. 

They can also help you see the law in context by showing how the law has developed overtime and linking you to related commentary, cases and legislation on the area you are researching

Four key legal databases are flagged here: vLex Justis, Lexis and Westlaw.  You will use these databases frequently for your insurance law research. 

There are many other databases available to you. Take a look at the full listing to discover all the resources.  As you move through your studies and research you will use other resources to meet particular research needs, e.g. you may need to use a specialist resource for a particular branch of law - e.g. maritime law or family law. or you may need to look at law from a particular jurisdiction such as French Law or German Law.  Specialist databases provide key resources in this area, beyond the content that you will find in databases such as Lexis and Westlaw. 

You may also find that you use databases from other disciplines, particularly if your research extends into wider social science disciplines. For example, you might want to explore databases for CriminologyBusiness, or Politics & International Relations.  You can find these and other in the A-Z Databases List. Just choose a subject to see all the recommended databases for that subject area.


Explore the Law listing so that you are familiar with all the resources that are available to you. 

Some of they key resources that you are likely to find most useful for this module are highlighted in the remainder of the guide

Westlaw is a major legal database providing full text access to UK , US and international case law, legislation, journals. books and other legal information sources.  

Find out more on the Westlaw UK Libguide.

You can build your online legal research competencies with Westlaw's training and certification scheme

Practical Law

Practical Law is an online legal know-how service which works hand in hand with Westlaw UK.


Lexis Library is a major legal database used in most large law practices as well as Universities.

It has the full text of UK case law, legislation and core journals published by Butterworths, plus a range of legal commentaries

You can search by subject, author or citation in order to find the material you require. 

You can also read reference works like Halsbury’s Laws of England and the  Encyclopaedia of Forms and Precedents. online. 

Use the Lexis LibGuide for help and support.



i-law is a specialist legal database and has a wide range of material related to commercial and insurance law.  At the University of Exeter you have accsess to the following practice area:

  • Dispute Resolution
  • Insurance & reinsurance
  • Maritime & Commercial

There are other practice areas within the database and although you can search across them to discover content you will not have access to the full text resources for these.

You need to register for an individual login for the i-law database. 

See the information on the i-law guide for help on registering for your individual login and for guidance and support.

vLex Justis is a great starting point for finding the legal information you need. It is a legal research platform that provides access to UK superior court judgments and legislation, and also quickly  and easily links you to law reports available in full text on other research platforms such as Lexis and Westlaw etc.

It has a number of useful research tools that help you to look at the law in context and explore related content.

 For example when you are viewing case law it  shows you whether your case has been referred to in other cases and whether it has been upheld or overruled subsequently.  A very nice added value feature is the precedent map which shows you the context of your case in a visual way. It helps you visualise relationships between cases and find other cases related to your line of enquiry.  

When you are looking at a piece of legislation you can see if there are related cases or journal articles, and check on the status of provisions to see if they are still in force or have been amended.

vLex Resource area for online help and support

Lexis and Westlaw provide access to a wide range of journal titles.  However, access to early volumes of journal titles is not typically available in these large databases.  Current content is available;  sometimes access to volumes from mid 1980s onwards is provided; but where titles have been available for many decades then the earlier decades are not typically available.

If you need to  look at articles from earlier volumes of the legal journals. then you should use one of the journal archive services.  There are two key journal archive services or relevance toi legal research. 

The easiest way for you to check on journal coverage is to use the Library Search service and search for the journal title. 


 Lexis and Westlaw are two of the most commonly used databases throughout  University law schools and the legal profession.  If you are planning to pursue a career in the legal field, you will want to ensure you have developed the necessary online research skills to make the most effective use of online databases.

These services provide online help and training so that you can build your online legal research competencies.  They also provide certification schemes, allowing you to sit an online test and receive a certificate which acknowledges your achievement.  These certificates are a useful way for you to evidence your online legal research skills on your CV or at interview. 


If you want to boost your skills and document your achievements for you CV then these schemes could be just what you are looking for. 

Effective Searching & Referencing

It is important to plan your search strategy, and manage your search results so that you get the most from your online searching.

Keep a record of all the material you need to cite in your assignments, papers, projects etc. 

Use the Search Techniques and Referencing guidance to assist you.

  • It is  easy to be overwhelmed by the sheer breadth of information available to you.  
  • Invest time in planning an effective online search strategy so that you can quickly and easily discover relevant and high quality information. 



As you search you need to keep track of all the material you will be using in your academic work so that you can cite and reference it appropriately.

Top Tip

Always check your module handbook for specific departmental guidance on the style required for your assessed works and dissertations.  Check with your personal tutor or dissertation supervisor if you need clarification.

For more guidance take a look at:


Citing Legal References

All the books, articles, reports and websites you have consulted for your essay or dissertation must be listed. References must always be given; a bibliography is normally expected in dissertations or longer essays.

  • References are a list of the sources you have directly quoted or paraphrased, numbered in the order they are mentioned in your text

  • a Bibliography is normally an alphabetical list, by author, of all the background material you have consulted, even if you haven't quoted directly

It is important to provide precise bibliographic information for all of your sources. By using proper citation and referencing methods you can avoid plagiarism, and enable readers to follow your line of research.

You will find that abbreviations are used throughout the scholarly and practitioner legal literature to refer you to journal articles and case law reports. 

Law reports examples

AC             Appeal Cases

All E.R      All England law reports 

Env.L.R.    Environmental law reports


Journal Title Abbreviation Examples

AJIL              American Journal of International Law

ICLQ             International & Comparative Law Quarterly

IHRR             International Human Rights Reports

Many databases will allow you to use the abbreviation when searching.  

However sometime you might need to know what the abbreviation stands for in order to work out whether you have access to the material, such as when you are running a journal title search within the Library Search Service.

If you come across any abbreviations that you are unsure of from your database searching or from bibliographies or reference lists, then you can quickly check them out in the Index.

You can search by abbreviation to find the title. You can also do the reverse and search by publication to find the standard abbreviation used for that title.

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