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U.S. health care providers can purchase coverage for defense costs and civil fines brought under the federal False Claims Act through a new policy developed by Lloyd's of London agency SVB Syndicates Ltd. Allegations of overbilling either Medicare or Medicaid can be covered under the policy, which includes risk management services, audit and legal defense costs. Limits are up to $25 million, with retentions a minimum of $50,000 for each claim. SVB developed the policy in conjunction with Willis Faber Re, London's global health care reinsurance unit, and New Jersey broker Boynton & Boynton. . . .Judith Hanratty has been appointed a nominated member of the Council of Lloyd's. Ms. Hanratty is company secretary for British Petroleum P.L.C. and fills the gap on the council left by Sir Jeremy Morse, who retired in June. . . .

Lloyd's investment trust Lomond Underwriting P.L.C. is buying Atrium Cockell Group Ltd., one of the few remaining independent underwriting agencies at Lloyd's. Atrium Cockell manages syndicates 570 and 609, which together have L116 million ($189.4 million) of capacity for the 1998 year of account. Lomond is providing the market with L113 million ($184.5 million) of capacity this year and is expected to pay about L23 million ($38.2 million) for Atrium Cockell in the form of new shares. . . .At the same time, Underwriters Reinsurance Corp., a unit of Alleghany Corp., has agreed to buy Venton Holdings Ltd., the Bermuda-based parent of Lloyd's agency Venton Underwriting Agencies Ltd., and corporate Lloyd's member Venton Underwriting Ltd. Underwriters Re will pay $190 million cash to Venton's current owners, EXEL Ltd., Trident Partnership L.P., Risk Capital Reinsurance Corp. and Venton executives. In June 1997, EXEL bought a 20% stake in Venton Holdings from Trident Partnership for $17 million in cash and the same amount in letters of credit. In this deal, Underwriters Re will take over $123 million in letter of credit obligations supporting the corporate member's underwriting business. . . .Bermuda-based Sovereign Risk Insurance Ltd. is doubling its capacity limits and upping its country limits for political risk business. It now will accept up to $100 million exposure per project and $250 million limits per country, and it has expanded its lines to include contract frustration. Sovereign is a joint venture of ACE Ltd., EXEL Ltd. and Risk Capital Holdings. . . .Swiss insurer Winterthur Group has sold its majority stake in Australian insurer HIH Winterthur International Holdings Ltd. in the open market for 400 million Swiss francs ($268.8 million). Winterthur said the decision was made to focus on core markets, though the insurer will continue to operate in Australia through Winterthur International, its multinational corporate client arm. . . .Shareholders representing more than 80% of the outstanding shares of EXEL Ltd. and Mid Ocean Ltd. approved their merger last week. . . .Aon Corp. has combined its two London-based consulting businesses, Godwins and Alexander Clay, to form Aon Consulting Financial Services, starting at the beginning of this month. . . .CNA Financial Corp. and Copenhagen, Denmark-based underwriting agency Hansen & Klein Insurance Management A/S have entered a strategic venture that will expand each company's market presence. The deal will give Chicago-based CNA greater access to Scandinavia and the Baltic region. Terms were not disclosed. . . .Royal & Sun Alliance Insurance Group P.L.C. is turning down unprofitable business in all segments and reviewing its operations to improve efficiency. The London-based insurer announced the move last week in reporting that first-half pretax profits were down 21% to L437 million ($712 million), mainly as a result of increased weather-related claims after ice storms in Canada and flooding in the United Kingdom.