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In Brief


Ohio comp bureau launches rates probe

A special investigation unit of the Ohio Bureau of Workers Compensation is examining whether rates the bureau charges employers have been "inappropriately manipulated," a spokeswoman said. The Ohio Bureau of Workers Compensation is a monopoly insurer, providing coverage for more than 288,000 employers in the state. The spokeswoman declined to provide details on how rates may have been manipulated.

Flagstone Re plans $175 million IPO

Flagstone Reinsurance Holdings Ltd., a reinsurance holding company, has filed an initial public offering of its common shares valued at up to $175 million, according to a Securities and Exchange Commission filing. The Hamilton, Bermuda-based reinsurer, which said it will apply to list its common shares on the New York Stock Exchange, mainly writes property catastrophe reinsurance coverage to selected insurance companies and other reinsurers, primarily on an excess-of-loss basis.

Most workers unaware of employer flu plans

Fewer than one in five workers are aware of any plan in their workplace to respond to an influenza pandemic, according to a survey by the Harvard School of Public Health. In fact, 63% of the 1,101 full- and part-time workers surveyed by the Boston-based school between Sept. 28 and Oct. 5 said their workplace had no plan, while 19% said there was a plan. The remaining 18% did not know whether their workplace had a plan or not. Employees in workplaces with plans cited provisions such as encouraging sick employees to stay home, expanding options for working from home and general information about the flu.

PBGC base premium to rise in 2007

The premiums that employers with defined benefit plans pay the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corp. will increase slightly next year. The base premium--now $30 a year per plan participant--will increase to $31. That increase is the result of a provision in a 2005 federal law that not only raised--effective for the 2006 plan year--the base premium to $30 per participant from $19, but also mandated that premiums--starting in 2007--be adjusted to reflect changes in the national average weekly wage during the prior year.

MMC alters rules for its directors

Marsh & McLennan Cos. Inc. last week amended its guidelines for corporate governance, among other things, requiring its directors to acquire a minimum of $100,000 in MMC stock within three years of joining the board. Senior executives also must now attain specified levels of MMC equity ownership over a five-year period, based upon their annual salary, MMC said. Directors will not be permitted to serve on more than four additional public company boards, and any director elected by the board must stand for re-election at the subsequent annual shareholder meeting.

Ill. Court overturns carpal tunnel ruling

Illinois' Supreme Court has overturned the rulings of two lower courts and the Illinois Workers' Compensation Commission, which had all found that a carpal tunnel injury claim was "time barred" because the plaintiff first experienced pain several years before filing a workers comp claim. In the case of Deana Durand vs. The Industrial Commission, the court ruled that the plaintiff couldn't have immediately known she suffered from a work-related injury and said it declined to penalize an employee who continued to work despite pain.

Lloyd's Chief Ward says trading floor to stay

Lloyd's of London Chief Executive Richard Ward has committed to maintaining a trading floor at the 300-year-old insurance market, although he called for technological and business process reform to support face-to-face transactions. Mr. Ward joined Lloyd's in April, having transformed the London-based International Petroleum Exchange (IPE), which was re-branded ICE Futures, into an electronic trading platform. In an address to the Insurance Institute of London at the Lloyd's building at One Lime St., Mr. Ward said that it was clear that Lloyd's "fundamental strength" lies in its "human capital."

Tredegar phasing out DB pension plan

Plastic films manufacturer Tredegar Corp. is phasing out its defined benefit pension plan for salaried employees and enhancing its 401(k) plan. Richmond, Va.-based Tredegar said its pension plan will be closed to employees hired on or after Jan. 1, 2007. Additionally, the pay used to compute pension benefits for active employees will be frozen as of Dec. 31, 2007. However, participants will continue to earn benefit credits for each year of service after 2007. Tredegar will sweeten its 401(k) plan to fully match employees' salary deferrals.