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In Brief


RSA USA sale under review

A Delaware Insurance Department hearing commissioner has recommended that Commissioner Matthew Denn approve the controversial sale of Royal & SunAlliance USA Inc. to Arrowpoint Capital Corp., a vehicle established by RSA USA's management team. After release of a proposed order, Mr. Denn said that he intends to "begin a thorough review and to issue a timely decision." Previously, major policyholders objected to the deal saying that it would leave the U.S. operation with inadequate capital.

Wrongful death suit filed over plant blast

A wrongful death lawsuit filed on behalf of the families of three men killed at a Milwaukee manufacturing plant in December 2006 when a liquid propane heating system exploded, seeks damages from engineering firm J.M. Brennan Inc. and its errors and omissions insurer. Brennan installed the system at Falk Corp. approximately 18 years ago, and it was conducting a system startup test when a pipeline leak led to the explosion. Brennan's E&O insurer is ACUITY, a Mutual Insurance Co. Also named as a defendant is Falk's workers compensation insurer, American Home Assurance Co., a subsidiary of American International Group Inc. In a statement, Brennan said: "We are confident that the results of the official investigations will show that the work of J.M. Brennan was reasonable and did not cause the explosion."

Soft market persists in 4Q: RIMS survey

The soft market continued in most lines in last year's fourth quarter, according to the RIMS Benchmark Survey released by the Risk & Insurance Management Society Inc. In last year's fourth quarter, directors and officers liability insurance and workers compensation premium rates dropped by an average of 5.1% and 7.4%, respectively, compared with the same period in 2005. General liability premiums, meanwhile, were down 2.6%, while property insurance bucked the general trend and increased 6.6%. "This sharp increase was caused by the continuing legacy of the 2005 hurricane season," RIMS noted in a statement.

Judge rejects Congoleum reorganization plan

A federal bankruptcy judge has rejected Congoleum Corp.'s 10th attempt at a Chapter 11 reorganization plan to resolve hundreds of millions of dollars of asbestos claims, citing its unequal treatment of claimants and other flaws. At the same time, the judge turned away an alternate plan offered by units of CNA Financial Corp. and rejected that plan's creation of a class of insurance company claimants in the bankruptcy proceeding. Congoleum, a Mercerville, N.J.-based flooring manufacturer, said it will return to negotiations with asbestos claimants and other parties, and hopes to have a revised plan ready by the end of September.

South Carolina replaces insurance commissioner

South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford has named state Sen. Scott Richardson as the new director of the Department of Insurance, pending confirmation by the state Senate. Mr. Richardson succeeds Eleanor Kitzman, who resigned, a department spokeswoman said. Ms. Kitzman's resignation signals the governor's desire for a new direction in handling the state's coastal insurance problems, which include enormous premium increases and policy cancellations, a spokesman for the governor said.

Measure calls for NFIP to offer multiperil cover

Rep. Gene Taylor, D-Miss., has drafted legislation that would create a multiperil insurance program-including commercial insurance-within the National Flood Insurance Program. According to a letter to colleagues circulated by Rep. Taylor, the optional program would offer coverage of wind and flood damage in one insurance policy. Nonresidential properties could be covered up to $1 million for structure and $750,000 for contents and business interruption. Lower limits would be available on personal lines policies. Premiums would be risk-based, said Rep. Taylor's letter.


Wells Fargo & Co. is changing its commercial insurance brokerage unit's name from Acordia Inc. to Wells Fargo Insurance Services. Wells Fargo acquired Acordia in May 2001Ö.Meanwhile, Wells Fargo has received final U.S. Labor Department approval to fund benefit risks through its Vermont captive.ÖPeter Eckert is retiring as group chief operating officer of Zurich Financial Services Group, effective Feb. 28Ö.

The Insurance Services Office Inc.'s Property Claim Services unit has declared the recent Florida tornadoes a catastrophe, meaning the storms caused at least $25 million in insured property damageÖ.William Jewett has been appointed president and chief executive officer of Endurance Specialty Holdings Ltd.'s reinsurance business. He is the first to hold the position, which was created last year, said a spokeswoman for the Pembroke Bermuda-based company.