For a lot of industries that will depend on US Supreme Court rulings in arcane business cases with huge piles of money at risk, Obama Supreme Court nominee Elena Kagan is an unknown, with a record more Harvard-scholar than benchly-jurist or real-world practicioner.

That includes insurance and all the business that relies on it. Entire industries (insulation, nursing homes) have been crippled or resuscitated by court rulings on insurance obligations and claims, and we don't know where Kagan will fit in on the scale from bleeding-heart policyholder advocate to cold, hard, asset-conserving claims-denier.

Says Philadelphia commercial insurance lawyer and observer Randy Maniloff of White and Williams LLP, "Kagan has almost no experience in private practice." With maybe one exception: In Kagan's Congressional "questionnaire for Solicitor General, she mentioned a few of her private practice cases - one was a coverage case in which she got a nice ruling for the policyholder. I was impressed," Maniloff allowed.

"Other than that, her insurance experience is probably limited to her homeowners and auto policies. Insurance is not a big draw for the Ivy League egghead crowd."

Next time, Maniloff is hoping for maybe one of the veteran judges from the Chicago-based Seventh Circuit, "a major circuit for insurance coverage."