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In Brief


Jury to hear Allstate age-discrimination suit

A federal judge ruled a that jury will decide whether Allstate Insurance Co.'s yearlong moratorium on rehiring its former sales agents disproportionately affected workers aged 40 years and older. The litigation stems from the insurer's efforts in 2000 to convert its 15,000-member agent workforce to independent contractors from regular employees.

Wal-Mart expands prescription program

Wal-Mart Stores Inc. is accelerating the planned expansion of its $4 generic prescription drug program to 14 states. When Wal-Mart launched the program on Oct. 6 in the Tampa, Fla.-market, the Bentonville, Ark.-based retailer said it planned to offer $4 generics in several other states next year, but customer demand led the company to move up the expansion, the company said in a statement. The 14 states where Wal-Mart's generics program will be available are: Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Delaware, Illinois, Indiana, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Oregon, Texas and Vermont. Rival discount chain Target Corp. said it would match the $4 price in 12 of the 14 states.

N.Y. contraception coverage law upheld

New York's Court of Appeals has ruled that social service organizations operated by the Roman Catholic Church and other religious groups must provide birth control coverage to their employees, even if they consider contraception a sin. The 6-0 decision resolves a lawsuit filed by Catholic Charities and nine other church-affiliated groups that claimed to be exempt from a 2002 state law that expanded health care coverage for women to include contraception, among other things, starting Jan. 1, 2003.

Plumeri recognized as insurance leader

Joe Plumeri, chairman and chief executive officer of Willis Group Holdings Ltd., has been named the 2006 Insurance Leader of the Year by the School of Risk Management division of the Peter J. Tobin College of Business of St. John's University in New York. The annual award recognizes leadership in the insurance industry either over several years or during the year of the award. The award will be presented at a dinner in New York on Jan. 17, 2007.

FM Global to disburse $355M membership credit

Policyholders of Factory Mutual Insurance Co., which does business as FM Global, will receive a collective $355 million membership credit beginning Jan. 1, 2007. The one-time distribution will be in the form of an insurance premium reduction and will be disbursed to FM Global clients that renew their policies in 2007 and had policies in effect as of Sept. 30, 2006. This is the third membership credit the Johnston, R.I.-based insurer will have distributed to policyholders since 2001, the most recent occurring in 2004. Collectively, the three credits will be worth nearly $1 billion, according to the insurer.

Softening trend in P/C market continues: CIAB

An analysis of Council of Insurance Agents & Brokers survey data by Lehman Brothers found that the commercial property/casualty market is continuing to soften. The average premium rates for all commercial accounts decreased 5.3% during the third quarter of 2006, compared with the same period a year earlier. But not all lines of coverage are softening: coastal property coverage, particularly in the Southeast, remained difficult to place.

R.I. grand jury indicts Beacon Mutual exec

A state grand jury has indicted David R. Clark, a former vp of loss prevention and underwriting for Beacon Mutual Insurance Co., according to Rhode Island Attorney General Patrick C. Lynch. The charges against Mr. Clark include insurance fraud, conspiracy to commit insurance fraud and intentionally accessing a computer to alter or destroy data, the attorney general said in a statement.

IRS sets pension contribution limits

The Internal Revenue Service is increasing the limits on contributions to defined contribution plans and the amount of benefits that can be funded through defined benefit pension plans in 2007. Among the increases, the maximum employee salary deferral to a 401(k) plan will rise to $15,500 in 2007, up from $15,000 in 2006 and the maximum total contribution, including employer contributions, to defined contribution plans will rise to $45,000 per participant from $44,000.

JLT wins London Olympic contract

The Olympic Delivery Authority announced that JLT Risk Solutions Ltd. has won the contract to act as insurance broker for the 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games to be held in London and for the conversion of venues after the games.