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IN KEEPING WITH TRADITION, we present our annual look at what will be "in" and "out" in the worlds of risk management, employee benefits and commercial insurance for the next 12 months.

Just like New Year's resolutions, some of which are kept and others quickly abandoned, our prognostications sometimes come true and other times are far off the mark.

Our hits in 1996 included predictions of: continued mergers and acquisitions in the property/casualty and managed care industries; the launch of Lloyd's of London's runoff reinsurer Equitas Ltd.; an end to pre-existing condition exclusions in health insurance policies; scrapping Warsaw Convention limits on airlines' passenger liability; and more rumors about the next broker to be bought by Aon Corp.

But we had our share of misses and near misses, too, including predictions of: passage of modest Superfund liability reform; more insurers segregating long-tail liabilities in separate runoff companies; no more opposition to CIGNA Corp.'s restructuring; greater awareness of earthquake risks outside California; and an end to paying premiums to brokers rather than directly to insurers.

The following is our 10th annual take on the ins and outs of the new year:

In: Consolidation in the property/casualty industry.

In: Consolidation among managed care companies.

In: Passage of incremental Superfund liability reforms.

In: More corporate underwriting in Lloyd's of London.

In: Employers offering domestic partner benefits.

In: Greater use of managed care in Medicare and Medicaid programs.

In: Benefit and risk management transactions via the Internet.

In: Anti-managed care legislation.

In: Agencies and banks teaming up to sell insurance.

In: Health care plan rate increases.

In: Expansion of pension simplification legislation.

In: Cash balance pension plans.

In: Mutual fund investment by retirement savings plans.

In: Legal battles over temporary worker benefits.

In: Greater variety of managed care report cards for payers.

In: Medical savings accounts.

Out: Litigation over old losses by Lloyd's of London names.

Out: Rumors of Aon Corp.'s next acquisition.

Out: Traditional indemnity health insurance plans.

Out: Passage of federal product liability reform.

Out: Big employee benefits departments.

Out: Major inroads in risk financing by capital markets.

Out: Comprehensive health care reform legislation.

Out: HMO gag rules.

Out: Chances for Social Security reform any time soon.

Out: Retirement savings in guaranteed investment contracts.

Out Mergers and acquisitions among direct reinsurers.

Out: Cramped office space for Bermuda companies.

Out: State efforts to regulate risk retention groups.

Out: Junk science in the federal courts.

Out: Unrestrained growth of state second-injury funds.

Out: Inflexible National Assn. of Insurance Commissioners accreditation standards.

Out: Escalating retiree health care liabilities.