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Wells Fargo gets OK to fund benefits with captive


WASHINGTON--Financial services industry giant Wells Fargo & Co. has received final U.S. Labor Department approval to fund benefit risks through its Vermont captive.

San Francisco-based Wells Fargo is using its Vermont captive, Superior Guaranty Insurance Co., to reinsure group life and long-term disability policies. The group life policies are being written by Minnesota Life Insurance Co., while the LTD policies are being written by Metropolitan Life Insurance Co. Each insurer is retaining 10% of the risk in the plan that won final approval last week.

Wells Fargo, which has more than $500 billion in assets, has been using Superior Guaranty to fund a variety of corporate property/casualty risks. In 2005, according to a filing with the Labor Department, Superior Guaranty generated more than $57 million in premiums, making it one of Vermont's larger single-parent captives.

Wells Fargo is the first U.S. employer this year to receive final Labor Department permission to fund benefits through its captive. Last year, the department approved three captive benefit funding applications.

Employers that received approval in 2006 to fund benefit risks through their captives were consumer food products manufacturer H.J. Heinz Co. of Pittsburgh, which is using its Vermont captive to fund group term life insurance policies; U.S. affiliates of U.K. pharmaceutical manufacturer AstraZeneca P.L.C. to fund benefits through AstraZeneca's Vermont captive; and AGL Resources Inc., an Atlanta-based natural gas distributor, to reinsure certain benefit risks through the Hawaii branch of its British Virgin Islands captive.