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Philip Marcell is retiring as chairman of Unionamerica Holdings P.L.C. at the end of June. He also will end his two-year term as chairman of the London International Insurance & Reinsurance Market Assn. at that time. In anticipation of Mr. Marcell's retirement, Ian Sinclair was appointed chief executive of the operating company, Unionamerica Insurance Co. Ltd., effective Jan. 1, and Peter Cooper as managing director for finance and administration. Robert Spass has been appointed non-executive chairman of Unionamerica Holdings P.L.C. LIRMA will announce Mr. Marcell's successor at its June 25 annual general meeting. . . .EXEL Ltd., the holding company for Bermuda liability insurer X.L. Insurance Co. Ltd., is buying a 20% stake in Venton Holdings Ltd. for $34.5 million. Venton manages three syndicates at Lloyd's of London which have a combined capacity of (British pounds) 225 million ($384.8 million). X.L. Europe, X.L.'s Dublin subsidiary, started a joint underwriting agreement with Venton syndicate 1207 in January. . . .LIRMA released its 1997 renewal season survey showing that insurance rates are continuing to fall, with property and casualty catastrophe rates down by approximately 10% to 15%. Brian Cragg, chairman of LIRMA's statistics subcommittee, warned reinsurers to look carefully at rating levels, saying that at next January's renewals "it would be difficult to justify the level of rates we are seeing today". . . .Hiscox P.L.C., which manages three Lloyd's of London syndicates, reported 1996 pretax profits of (British pounds) 14.3 million ($24.4 million), sharply up from a 1995 profit of (British pounds) 1.9 million ($2.9 million). The improvement came from high earnings in 1994Áthe latest completed year under Lloyd's three-year accounting systemÁwhen there was also a markedly reduced need compared with previous years to reserve for open years in runoff. The group's chairman, Robert Hiscox, used the occasion to call for an end to the traditional system of investment in Lloyd's by individuals bearing unlimited liability for claims. He also advocated an end to syndicates raising fresh capital each year. He said that Lloyd's needs the lowest possible cost structure, which can best be achieved by "ridding itself" of these two anomalies. . . .Zurich Group has raised $1 billion through a private placement of capital securities in the United States. Zurich said proceeds will be used for "general purposes, including the funding of any potential acquisitions," but declined to comment on rumors that it is interested in acquiring U.S. money manager Scudder Stevens & Clark. . . .Hannover Re Chairman Wilhelm Zeller said the company's pretax profit for 1996 grew by 36% to a record 158 million deutsche marks ($102.4 million). Gross premiums increased 7% to 6.4 billion deutsche marks ($4.15 billion), with most of the increase coming from life and health business and from a 20% increase in North American business. However, Mr. Zeller said a 38.5% increase in underwriting losses to 385 million deutsche marks ($249.4 million)"is related mainly to significant investments in strategic priorities such as life and health and financial reinsurance. . . .The U.K. P&I Club is to offer extended cargo coverage for items specifically excluded from normal protection and indemnity coverage. Members may either increase the level of coverage under their standard membership or arrange coverage for additional risks or additional cargoes, such as rare and valuable items. There will be a scale of rates for the extra coverage, but fleets and vessels will also be individually assessed according to the owners' requirements and other risk factors. . . .Richard Reddaway, group insurance manager for Glaxo Wellcome P.L.C., was elected last week to succeed Derek Brighton as chairman of the U.K.'s Assn. of Insurance & Risk Managers.