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Bank deal unites Wells Fargo Insurance, ABD
ABD Insurance & Financial Services will become part of Wells Fargo Insurance Services Inc. under an all-stock deal, valued at about $1.5 billion, that was announced last week by parent companies Wells Fargo & Co. and Greater Bay Bancorp. According to Business Insurance's 2006 brokerage rankings, Wells Fargo was the world's fifth largest broker--and fifth largest broker of U.S. business--based on $959.4 million in 2005 brokerage revenues. ABD was the 15th largest broker of U.S business, based on $165.0 million in 2005 brokerage revenues from U.S. clients. "We look forward to welcoming ABD's more than 700 team members to Wells Fargo Insurance Services Inc.," Dave Zuercher, chairman and chief executive officer of WFIS, said in a statement.
Most rates down in quarter: Survey
General liability rates dipped by 0.8% in the first quarter--compared with the fourth quarter of 2006--according to the latest Risk & Insurance Management Society Inc.'s RIMS Benchmark Survey. The survey, which is produced by Advisen Ltd. and is based on data contributed by corporate risk managers, found that property was the only line to see an increase, with rates rising by 0.8% on average. D&O rates dropped by 7.7%, while workers comp rates decreased by 3.8% on average.
Bush nominates PBGC director
President Bush said he will nominate Charles E.F. Millard, a managing director at Broadway Partners L.L.C., a New York real estate investment and management firm, to be the next director of the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corp. Previously, Mr. Millard was managing director and head of wealth management services at Lehman Bros. The nomination is subject to Senate confirmation. The PBGC's director position has been vacant for about a year following the resignation of Bradley Belt. President Bush also said he intends to nominate Bradford Campbell as assistant secretary of labor and head of the Labor Department's Employee Benefits Security Administration, which regulates pension plans. Currently, Mr. Campbell is an acting assistant secretary.
Mass. starts new phase of health care effort
Massachusetts last week launched the next program to help the state achieve near-universal health care coverage. Under the program, called Commonwealth Choice, state residents will be able to choose from a variety of health care plans offered by six carriers and available through the Commonwealth Connector, an independent state authority created to help implement the state's 2006 health care law. Initially, Commonwealth Choice will be available only to individuals and employers of any size that want to offer health care coverage in which employees pay the entire premium through pretax contributions.
Okla. governor vetoes tort reform measure
Oklahoma Gov. Brad Henry has vetoed a broad tort reform bill that would have altered procedures and requirements for class actions and imposed some caps on damages. Gov. Henry issued a statement April 28 on Senate Bill 507, stating that he was working with lawmakers to address a number of legal concerns with the 130-page measure, but "time ultimately ran out" and he was forced to veto the bill.
New York extends law on hospital surcharge
Legislation signed into law by Gov. Eliot Spitzer extends through the end of next year a 1996 New York law that adds hundreds of million of dollars to employers' health care bills. That law, which was to expire on June 30, imposes an 8.95% surcharge on bills incurred in hospitals in the state. The surcharge, added to patient charges, is used to help fund indigent care. The law also continues a state pool used to fund, among other things, graduate medical education. The pool is funded by a covered-lives assessment on employers with employees living in New York state.
Collins forms unit for capital markets
Reinsurance intermediary John B. Collins Associates Inc. has formed a subsidiary, Collins Capital Advisors L.L.C., to provide investment banking advice and capital markets expertise--including on securitizations and cat bonds--to the insurance and reinsurance industry. Gregory G. Clapp, former managing director at Fox-Pitt, Kelton Inc., has been named managing director of the new Collins unit.
Miss. attorney general to sue State Farm
Mississippi Attorney General Jim Hood plans to sue State Farm Fire & Casualty Co. for alleged breach of contract related to Hurricane Katrina claims. State Farm holds that it has met its legal requirements and is currently working with Mississippi Insurance Commissioner Gorge Dale to re-evaluate hurricane-related claims.
Financial services group calls for TRIA expansion
Extending and expanding the federal terrorism insurance backstop is a key way to minimize the costs associated with major catastrophes, according to a report issued last week by the Financial Services Roundtable Blue Ribbon Commission on Megacatastrophes. The group, which consists of 100 of the largest financial services companies in the United States, says the federal backstop program, slated to expire on Dec. 31, should be extended "on a long-term basis" but should be amended to include coverage for group life insurance as well as property/casualty coverages. The report also calls on Congress to allow the backstop to apply to losses caused by domestic terrorism.
Survey: Employers don't want to fund retiree care
Seventy-three percent of large U.S. employers don't want to fund retiree health care benefits but are in favor of providing access to health insurance for retired workers, according to a PricewaterhouseCoopers L.L.P. study. The study, "Tailoring the Approach: Employer Attitudes and Healthcare Strategies Address Distinct Issues," gauged the views of 135 top executives. In addition, 62% of executives surveyed said their companies should require employees who exhibit unhealthy behaviors--from obesity to smoking--to pay a larger share of their health benefit costs. Eighty-seven percent of employers do not wish to abandon employer-sponsored health insurance, and 94% believe they could do a better job of supporting their employees in managing their health care to reduce overall costs.
Standard & Poor's Corp. has raised its financial strength rating of operating units of Arch Capital Group Ltd. to A from A-, reflecting the units' strong performance and diversified business platform, among other factors....The Department of Homeland Security will subpoena Allstate Insurance Co. for documents "with regard to homeowners' claims" arising from Hurricane Katrina, Allstate Corp. said in a document filed with the Securities & Exchange Commission on May 3. Congress authorized DHS to investigate insurers such as Allstate that participate in the National Flood Insurance Program. In its filing, Allstate said it cooperated with DHS in the investigation.