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CSU team forecasts busy storm season
The hurricane forecasting team at Colorado State University continues to predict above-average tropical storm activity for the 2007 Atlantic hurricane season, which began last Friday. In its latest forecast, the team repeated the prediction it issued April 3, which calls for the formation of 17 named storms, nine of which are forecast to grow into hurricanes. Five of those hurricanes are forecast to reach intense status, with winds of at least 111 mph.
Reinsurers' results improve in quarter
A group of 22 U.S. property/ casualty reinsurers reported an 89.8% combined ratio for the first quarter, which ended March 31, compared with 98.4% reported by a comparable group a year ago, according to a survey by the Washington-based Reinsurance Assn. of America. The reinsurers also reported $6.73 billion in net premiums written for the first quarter, a 2.7% increase.
N.J. high court OKs Wal-Mart class suit
The New Jersey Supreme Court last week agreed to class certification of a lawsuit brought by New Jersey employees of Wal-Mart Stores Inc., in which plaintiffs charge the retail chain with denying them earned rest and meal breaks and forcing them to work off the clock. The class consists of about 72,000 current and former Wal-Mart employees, according to the May 31 opinion. A spokesman for Bentonville, Ark.-based Wal-Mart said the company was disappointed with the decision.
California commissioner wants WCIRB audit
California Insurance Commissioner Steve Poizner has ordered a "top-to-bottom audit" of the state Workers' Compensation Insurance Rating Bureau as part of a series of system reforms, and suggested that comp insurers reduce their pure premium rates by 14.2% for policies beginning on or after July 1. The San Francisco-based WCIRB has been plagued by a 12-year history of forecasting inaccuracy, Mr. Poizner said in a statement, noting that the WCIRB recommended only an 11.3% decrease in pure premiums. WCIRB could not be immediately reached.
IRS proposes accelerated HSA contributions
Regulations proposed by the Internal Revenue Service would allow employers that contribute to employees' health savings accounts to accelerate contributions for employees whose medical care expenses are greater than what the employer has so far contributed to the HSA during the year. The rule proposed last week would apply to HSAs that are not part of Section 125 programs, in which employees make pretax contributions to their accounts. Benefit experts say accelerated employer contributions to HSAs that are part of Section 125 programs already are permitted.
Swiss Re securitizes earthquake risks
Swiss Reinsurance Co. securitized $100 million of earthquake risk in Turkey, Greece, Israel, Portugal and Cyprus. The deal is a retrocessional agreement between Swiss Re and MedQuake Ltd., which will issue $100 million of principal-at-risk variable notes. The notes cover severe earthquake risks in the five named countries for the period May 2007 through May 2010, Swiss Re said.
Greenlight offering raises $258 million
Greenlight Capital Re Ltd. raised approximately $258 million through the completion of an initial public offering and private placement, the specialty property/casualty reinsurer said last week. Greenlight Re sold at $19 per share a total of 11,787,500 Class A ordinary shares, including 1,537,500 Class A ordinary shares exercised by underwriters of the offer pursuant to an overallotment option. Additionally, Greenlight Re announced the private sale of 2,631,579 shares at $19 per share to David Einhorn, chairman of the Greenlight Re's board of directors. Proceeds will be used to boost Greenlight Re's underwriting capacity, the company said.
Maine high court OKs insurer fees
The Maine Supreme Court upheld a revenue source used to help subsidize health insurance premiums for low-income state residents. In a 5-1 ruling, the court upheld the methodology used by state regulators to assess special fees on insurers. Those fees are to recapture the savings insurers are supposed to gain under Maine's 2003 health care reform law, which was intended to expand the number of people with health insurance and reduce uncompensated care. The assessments, though, could be on their way out. Gov. John Baldacci has proposed that the assessments be discontinued and replaced by a surcharge added to hospital bills.
Sue Langley has been appointed director of market operations and North America at Lloyd's of London. Ms. Langley previously was chief operating officer at Bermuda-based Hiscox Ltd.