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In Brief


Storm team predicts active 2007 season

The follow-up to this year's mild storm season will be an active 2007 season, with 14 named storms expected to form, the forecasting team from the Colorado State University said. The team predicted "above-average probability of United States major hurricane landfall," with the likelihood of a major hurricane hitting the U.S. coastline set at 64%, compared with an average for the last century of 52%. Of the 14 named storms seven will strengthen into hurricanes.

Brown & Brown settles for $5.8 million

Brown & Brown Inc. will pay $5.8 million to resolve investigations by Florida officials over its acceptance of undisclosed "excess" contingent commissions, officials said. Under terms of the settlement, Brown & Brown agreed to reimburse approximately $4.8 million to up to 400 cities and counties in Florida. The brokerage also must pay $1 million to the agencies for investigative costs, and it agreed to adhere to stricter compensation disclosure requirements. The settlement does not require Brown & Brown to cease collecting contingent commissions.

AIG, Starr settle MGA disputes

Feuding insurers American International Group Inc. and C.V. Starr & Co. announced Tuesday that they had reached a settlement of certain disputes stemming from the termination of managing general agency relationships between the companies' subsidiaries. Terms of the settlement were not disclosed. Under the agreement, AIG will cease conducting business under "Starr" and related names, while C.V. Starr will refrain from conducting business under "American International" and related names, according to a joint statement from the companies.

CIGNA settles shareholder suit

CIGNA Corp. has reached a $93 million settlement in connection with a 2002 class action shareholder lawsuit. CIGNA will take a nonrecurring, aftertax charge in this year's fourth quarter of about $25 million in connection with the agreement, the health insurer said. CIGNA said the charge is net of expected insurance recoveries. Among other things, CIGNA and several of its officers were charged with misleading CIGNA shareholders about the company's performance from May 2, 2001, to Oct. 24, 2002.

House passes HSA changes

The House of Representatives passed a tax package that would enhance the appeal of health savings accounts by boosting contribution amounts, open the door for employers to replace first-generation consumer-driven health care plans with HSA-based plans, and remove certain administrative problems associated with HSAs. The Senate was expected to consider the measure over the weekend.

Tenn. commissioner to leave post

Tennessee Insurance Commissioner Paula Flowers plans to leave her job in January and return to the private sector. Ms. Flowers, an attorney, has served as state insurance commissioner for nearly four years. She was appointed in January 2003 by Tennessee Gov. Phil Bredesen, who was recently re-elected.

P/C rates fall 9% in November: Survey

The average rate of all lines of commercial property/casualty insurance fell 9% in November compared to the composite rate of a year earlier, Dallas-based MarketScout reported. Workers compensation and general liability represented the largest segment of the market and were down 9% and 10%, respectively. Umbrella/excess coverages fell 8%. Commercial property, business interruption and inland marine continued to soften, with rate decreases of 4%. Professional liability was down 5%, and directors and officers liability dropped 3%, as did employment practices liability.

Commercial lines outlook stable: S&P

Standard & Poor's Corp. is maintaining its stable outlook on the U.S. commercial lines sector, but price decreases across most lines could steadily erode profit margins next year, the rating agency said in a special report. The impact of that erosion, though, will not be fully reflected in earnings until 2008, S&P said in the report "U.S. Commercial Lines 2007 Outlook: Insurers Heading for a Soft Landing."

Endurance gets S&P upgrade to A

Standard & Poor's Corp. has raised its financial strength ratings on the operating companies of Endurance Specialty Holdings Ltd. to A from A-. S&P cited Pembroke, Bermuda-based Endurance's strong competitive position and diversified insurance and reinsurance business.