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In Brief


Reinsurer results improve in period

Reinsurers' results for the first nine months of the year improved markedly over last year's hurricane-battered returns, according to the Reinsurance Assn. of America. A group of 23 reinsurers reported a combined ratio of 95.4% for the first nine months of 2006, compared with a 124.1% combined ratio reported by a similar group in the same period last year. The reinsurers reported gross written premiums of $31.58 billion, up 3.7% compared with last year's group, and profits of $6.3 billion vs. a loss of $133.6 million last year.

St. Paul Travelers cuts back in New Orleans

St. Paul Travelers Cos. Inc. plans to stop renewing many small and midsize commercial policies in the New Orleans area next year. A spokeswoman for the St. Paul, Minn.-based insurer declined to specify how many policyholders would be affected.The insurer found it had a high concentration of hurricane-prone risks in Louisiana and decided it would redistribute its exposures in the state, she said. St. Paul Travelers is the second-largest writer of commercial property insurance in Louisiana, she said.

Labor Department seeks FMLA views

The Department of Labor is asking for public comment on its Family and Medical Leave Act and FMLA regulations. Noting that it has been more than a decade since the DOL first published regulations to help employers comply with the FMLA, the DOL is seeking comments on numerous technical issues, such as the definition of a serious illness under FMLA, as well as general issues, such as methodologies that could be used to estimate usage of FMLA leave. Comments can be submitted by e-mail to

Ill. Supreme Court rejects class action

In a unanimous ruling the Illinois Supreme Court has ruled that most mass tort personal injury cases should not be litigated as class actions. In Smith et al. vs. Illinois Central Railroad Co., the court ruled that class actions are inappropriate when the nature and extent of plaintiffs' individual injuries—rather than questions of liability for a catastrophic incident—dominate the case. The case was brought by residents of Tamaroa, Ill., who sued the railroad after they were exposed to dangerous chemicals after a freight train derailment.

USI gets new trial in copyright case

The U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia has ordered a new trial on damages and statute of limitation issues in a copyright infringement case involving insurance brokerages USI Holdings Corp. and The Graham Co. In June, a Philadelphia jury found that a USI subsidiary and a former Graham employee, who joined one of USI's predecessor firms in 1991, violated copyright infringement laws. The jury ordered the subsidiary—USI MidAtlantic Inc.—to pay Graham nearly $16.6 million and the former employee to pay nearly $2.3 million.

Aon, Gallagher expand Cayman operations

Aon Insurance Managers (Cayman) Ltd. has acquired a 50% stake in Cayman National Insurance Brokers Ltd., a unit of Cayman National Corp. The agreement presents a significant opportunity for growth of reinsurance operations, particularly as Cayman Island regulators explore ways to facilitate its development as a reinsurance domicile, said Daniel MacLean, managing director of the Aon unit. Meanwhile, Gallagher Captive Services (Cayman) Ltd. will acquire Fair Winds Captive Management (Cayman) Ltd., effective Jan. 1, as part of its effort to expand its captive operations in the domicile. The combined entity will manage 15 captives with more than $100 million in premium volume.

Willis appoints Millwater as COO

Willis Re Chairman Grahame Millwater has been appointed to the additional post of chief operating officer of London-based Willis Group Holdings Ltd. The COO position was formerly shared by Tom Colraine and Richard Bucknall. Mr. Colraine has decided to leave the brokerage at the end of the year, Willis said. Mr. Bucknall, who is chairman of Willis Ltd., the brokerage's U.K. unit, will assume the additional post of chief executive officer of the unit from Mr. Colraine. Mr. Bucknall also will remain a vice chairman of the group.

Fireman's Fund names CEO

Joseph J. Beneducci has been named chief executive officer of Fireman's Fund Insurance Co. Mr. Beneducci, former president and chief operating officer of the Novato, Calif.-based insurer, succeeds Charles Kavitsky, who has been named president of Allianz America with responsibility for Fireman's Fund and Allianz Life Insurance Co. of North America, the company said.