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In Brief


Insured cat losses drop in 3Q: PCS

U.S. catastrophes caused an estimated $971 million in insured property damage during the third quarter of this year, according to a preliminary estimate from the Insurance Services Office Inc.'s Property Claim Services unit. That compares with insured losses of $48 billion during the same period last year and $24 billion during the same period of 2004. Unusually destructive hurricane activity marked both previous third-quarter periods.

Garamendi urges 9.5% comp rate cut

California Insurance Commissioner John Garamendi is recommending a 9.5% decrease in the workers compensation pure premium rates for policies beginning Jan. 1. Mr. Garamendi said his latest recommendation is more than the 6.3% decrease recommended by the state Workers' Compensation Insurance Rating Bureau and would bring the cumulative reduction in the cost of claims within the system to 59.4% since July 2003.

HRH reports laptops stolen

Hilb Rogal & Hobbs Co. informed 10 clients that two password-protected laptop computers stolen from the broker's Plymouth Meeting, Pa., office contained some personal information. HRH said it notified national credit bureaus of the theft and arranged for a free 12-month membership to a credit monitoring service, which includes up to $20,000 in identity fraud expense coverage for each person affected.

Bermuda sees change in premier

Dr. Ewart F. Brown has been sworn in as Bermuda's premier. Dr. Brown defeated the incumbent, W. Alexander Scott--who had served as premier since July 2003--in a 107-76 vote at the Progressive Labor Party's delegates conference.

APRA bars former Zurich Australian CFO

The former chief financial officer of Zurich Australian Insurance Ltd., which admitted last year to misrepresenting financial reinsurance transactions over a five-year period, has been barred from holding a leadership position in an insurance company. John Stanbridge was disqualified by the Australian Prudential Regulation Authority from acting as director or senior manager of a general insurer, authorized nonoperating holding company or agent of a foreign general insurer. APRA said its assessment of others who may have been involved in the transactions is continuing.

Lockton forms global benefits practice

Lockton Cos. Inc. said it has formed an international employee benefits practice to meet growing demand for such expertise. Pam Enright, who has 15 years' experience in the benefits industry working with multinational organizations, will head the practice as vp-director of International Benefit Services. The practice will include strategic partnerships with leading international benefit and human resource consultants to provide a full range of global HR services, Lockton said.

Maine comp board sued by employer

Bath Iron Works is suing the Maine Workers' Compensation Board in an effort to force it to establish a hospital fee schedule, something the state's largest employer asserts the board should have done 14 years ago. Since enactment of the Maine Workers' Compensation Act of 1992, the board has created a fee schedule for physicians but not one for hospital facilities and other medical providers. As a result, Bath Iron Works has paid for such services in accordance with a fee schedule promulgated under the federal Longshore and Harbor Workers' Compensation Act, which has resulted in a dispute with a hospital provider, according to the suit.

Willis Re names U.S. executives

Paddy Jago has been named chief executive officer of the U.S. arm of Willis Re, the reinsurance division of Willis Group Holdings Ltd. Mr. Jago--who most recently served as president of Willis Re's U.S. unit--succeeds Peter Hearn, who in June was promoted to global chief executive for Willis Re. John Ehinger will step in as president for Willis Re in the United States and will continue in his current role of chief operating officer for that unit.

Washington proposes comp relief in 2007

Employers in Washington state could save an estimated $315 million in workers compensation premiums if a Department of Labor and Industries proposal to suspend rates for six months in 2007 is approved by the department. Under the plan, employers and workers would not have to make any payments into the state's Medical Aid Fund for the second half of 2007. This saving would come on top of an overall 2% decrease in the average premium rate, a change the department is also considering for 2007. If both are approved, employers and workers would save about $345 million in 2007, the department estimates.