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In Brief

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Mich. court rejects same-sex benefits

Michigan's 2004 marriage amendment prohibits public employers in the state from offering health benefits to employees' same-sex domestic partners, the Michigan Court of Appeals says. In a unanimous opinion issued last week in National Pride at Work Inc. vs. Governor of Michigan and City of Kalamazoo, a three-judge panel held that public employer plans that recognize domestic partnership agreements for the purpose of providing benefits "run directly afoul of the plain language of the amendment."

Bias claims up in 2006: EEOC

A total of 75,768 discrimination charges were filed with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission in fiscal year 2006, a nearly 0.5% increase from the previous year and the first rise since fiscal 2002, the agency said last week. The EEOC reported that--as in past years--charges based on race were the most frequent. The 27,238 race-based charges were followed by 23,247 complaints based on sex and 22,555 based on retaliation. Other frequently cited complaints were disability, at 15,625; national origin, at 8,327; and religion, at 2,541.

P/C profit forecast in 2007: III survey

The property/casualty insurance industry could enjoy an underwriting profit for the second year in a row in 2007, according to an average of predictions made by analysts participating in the Insurance Information Institute's annual Groundhog survey. According to the forecast, the analysts predict that insurers will have a combined ratio of 96.6% this year, a slight deterioration from last year's estimated 93.2%, but still only the third annual underwriting profit since 1978. The average forecast calls for an increase in net written premiums of only 1.8% in 2007, slightly better than half of the 3.3% increase projected for 2006.

CDC releases pandemic index

Closing large public gatherings and asking infected workers to stay home for at least a week are part of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's new set of guidelines for dealing with a potential influenza epidemic. The CDC released its "pandemic severity index," which is modeled on the five-category index used to classify hurricanes. For example, a Category 1 pandemic would be as harmful as a severe seasonal influenza season with fewer than 90,000 deaths, while a Category 5 could kill more than 1.8 million.

Bank of America forms Lloyd's syndicate

Bank of America Corp.'s insurance group has set up a syndicate at Lloyd's of London. The syndicate--to be known as the Pembrace Casualty Insurance Syndicate--will have initial stamp capacity of £33 million ($64.5 million) and will underwrite specialty liability, casualty and reinsurance business. The syndicate will be managed by Spectrum Syndicate Management Ltd.

Brown & Brown notes succession plan

J. Powell Brown has been elected president of brokerage Brown & Brown Inc., succeeding Jim W. Henderson, who has been promoted to the new position of vice chairman. The moves are the first steps in the brokerage's executive succession plan, which anticipates Mr. Brown also assuming the office of chief executive officer in July 2009. That's the date his father, J. Hyatt Brown, has indicated he will retire as CEO but remain chairman. J. Powell Brown, previously a regional executive vp, will continue to report to Mr. Henderson, who will retain his position as chief operating officer.

Noted

Thomas L. Elliott III, a longtime executive at Arthur Andersen L.L.P. and later at Unisys Corp., has been named to the newly created position of chief operating officer, consulting practices, at Mercer Human Resource Consulting. Before joining Mercer, Mr. Elliott served as president of Unisys' Global Commercial Industries business unit....AIR Worldwide Corp. Executive Vp S. Ming Lee will succeed Karen Clark as president and chief executive officer of the catastrophe modeler on April 15. Ms. Clark, who founded the unit of Insurance Services Office Inc. in 1987, will assume the job of vice chairman of AIR's board....Carla D'Andre has been named executive vp of global sales and marketing for Willis Group Holdings Ltd.'s newly formed global corporate practice unit, focused on providing risk solutions to multinational corporations. Ms. D'Andre, who will be based in New York, most recently served as a managing director at Aon Risk Services....Aon Corp. said Doug Wendt will succeed Richard Ravin as chief executive officer of underwriting unit Combined Insurance Co. of America. The transition will occur July 1, and Mr. Ravin will remain chairman of CICA through 2007. Mr. Wendt currently serves as CICA's president and chief operating officer....Aon has formed a new unit focusing on the insurance and risk management needs of the renewable fuels industry. The Agri-Fuels Risk Management Group will be based in Kansas City, Mo.