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Late News


Vitale leaves Willis for Zurich post

Don Bailey has been named chief executive officer of Willis North America, succeeding Mario P. Vitale, who is leaving the brokerage to become CEO of Zurich Financial Services Group's Global Corporate North American operations. Mr. Bailey, who joined Willis in New York from Allianz Insurance Co. in March 2003, most recently served as chief operating officer of Willis North America.

Clements forming property cat insurer

New York-based brokerage Integro Ltd. and its chairman, Robert Clements, are in the process of seeking $1 billion to capitalize Ironshore Ltd., a Bermuda-based property catastrophe insurer that will focus on major companies, according to market sources. An Integro spokeswoman said the principals involved are unable to comment because Integro is a sponsor of the new facility. Mr. Clements has a long, successful track record in the industry, including founding Arch Capital Group in 1995.

Willumstad named chairman of AIG

American International Group Inc.'s board has elected Robert B. Willumstad as chairman to succeed Frank G. Zarb, who has served as interim chairman since April 2005. The change is effective Nov. 1. Mr. Willumstad, who retired in 2005 as president and chief operating officer of New York-based Citigroup Inc., has been on the AIG board since January. Mr. Zarb remains an AIG director and will continue to serve as a nonvoting member of each of the board's standing committees.

Omega to move base to Bermuda

Omega Underwriting Holdings P.L.C., which operates at Lloyd's of London and in the United States, said it plans to set up a Bermuda-based holding company for its operations. Omega said the move "will position us to grow and develop our business significantly." The move follows Hiscox P.L.C.'s announcement earlier this month that the London-based company had received approval from its board to set up a Bermuda-based holding company, Hiscox Ltd.

Agent group opposes Zurich settlement

The National Assn. of Professional Insurance Agents has asked a New Jersey federal court to reject Zurich American Insurance Co.'s proposed class action settlement over its broker compensation practices, which the PIA says would unfairly harm insurance buyers and independent agents. In an amicus brief filed with the U.S. District Court for the District of New Jersey, the Alexandria, Va.-based trade group specifically takes issue with the mandatory disclosure statement set forth in a regulatory settlement that agents would be required to use with clients if transacting business with the insurer. Schaumburg, Ill.-based Zurich reached two regulatory settlements in connection with the proposed class action lawsuit pending in the New Jersey court against several commercial insurers and brokerages allegedly involved in improper broker compensation and insurance placement practices.

Quanta Capital sells

environmental unit

Quanta Capital Holdings Ltd. said Monday it has sold its Environmental Strategies Consulting L.L.C. unit to WSP Environmental Holdings Inc. for $11.3 million in cash. The sale is the latest move by the embattled insurer and reinsurer following a ratings downgrade out of the A range in March by A.M. Best Co. Inc.

Hamilton, Bermuda-based Quanta, which was hit hard by the 2005 hurricanes, placed the bulk of its specialty lines insurance and reinsurance business into runoff in May and sold the renewal rights to its U.S. environmental liability business to Liberty International Underwriters. Quanta continues to operate its Lloyd's of London syndicate 4000, which accounted for $80.7 million of gross premiums written in 2005.

Mental health benefits still fall short: Study

Ambulatory mental health treatment remains less well-covered than other types of health care despite a 1996 law and numerous state laws that require employers to provide mental health care benefits equal to those for medical care, a federal study shows. While out-of-pocket expenses for mental health care visits paralleled those of non-mental health visits for the first five visits each year, consumers' cost grew as the number of mental health visits approached and surpassed 20 annually, according to researchers at the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality in Washington. By contrast, as the number of outpatient visits for non-mental health care increased, out-of-pocket costs generally declined, researchers say. However, out-of-pocket costs for prescription drugs were not effectively higher for treatment of mental health conditions vs. medical conditions, concludes the study by the arm of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. To estimate out-of-pocket costs for mental health and non-mental health treatment, researchers used data from AHRQ's ongoing national Medical Expenditure Panel Survey. The study covers the period from 1996 to 2003, the latest year for which data is available.

Max Re launches aviation unit

Max Re Ltd. has formed an aviation insurance unit that will underwrite airlines and manufacturers from its offices in Dublin, Ireland. Max Re, a subsidiary of Bermuda-based Max Re Capital Ltd., previously reinsured aviation risks. A Max Re Capital spokesman would not discuss how much capacity Max Re would offer airlines and product manufacturers. The unit will be headed by Senior Vp Olivier Marre, who previously was general manager of underwriting, accounting and claims in the Paris and London offices of Paris-based insurer La Reunion Aerienne.

Briefly noted

Former Oil Insurance Ltd. Vp Elspeth Brewin has joined mutual and captive insurance manager Thomas Miller (Bermuda) Ltd. as executive vp and director. Ms. Brewin, who earlier this month left her post at OIL, a Bermuda-based energy mutual insurer, will help to grow London-based Thomas Miller's Bermuda operations. Thomas Miller manages mutuals the U.K. P&I Club and the TT Club, among others....California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger vetoed legislation that would have doubled the state's permanent disability benefits over three years. In his veto message, the governor said S.B. 815 would have undermined reforms that were adopted in 2004 and that have since cut workers compensation premiums in half....St. Paul Travelers Cos. Inc. for a second time this year issued a statement denying media reports of an impending merger with Zurich Financial Services Group. In March, The Wall Street Journal reported that the St. Paul, Minn.-based insurer was in talks to merge with ZFS, and a similar report surfaced last week in the Swiss newspaper CASH....Everest Re Group Ltd. said its chief financial officer, Stephen L. Limauro, plans to retire at the end of the year. The reinsurer has begun an outside search for his replacement.