Месечни архиви: May 2015

Effort to Expand Police Mental Health Coverage Progresses in Connecticut


Effort to Expand Police Mental Health Coverage Progresses in Connecticut

A long-running effort in Connecticut to extend workers’ compensation benefits to police officers who receive mental health injuries on the job cleared a key hurdle on May 22 after years of defeat in the General Assembly.

While the bill passed the Senate 25-11, some lawmakers predicted it faces trouble in the House of Representatives because it now encompasses a second bill. That proposal would extend workers’ compensation coverage to certain firefighters who acquire various forms of cancer.

Under the bill, such cancers are presumed to have developed while in the line of duty, after a firefighter inhaled or absorbed noxious fumes or poisonous gases.

Sen. John Kissel, R-Enfield, voted against the legislation. He said he originally was inclined to vote for the legislation helping firefighters but decided against it after considering the financial impact of imposing both mandates on local communities.

“I feel badly if the combination of these bills actually undermines both,” Kissel said.

The state’s largest association of cities and towns, the Connecticut Conference of Municipalities, had opposed both bills. It now contends the newly merged bill would impose the largest unfunded mandate on municipalities in recent history. It plans to begin airing radio ads this week, urging House members to defeat the bill.

Wallingford Mayor Bill Dickerson wondered why, if it’s such a priority, the state isn’t paying for it.

“Ultimately, all of this comes back to the people who live in the state, the businesses here,” he said. “They have to come up with more money. It’s not a good time for this, with the economy very uncertain.”

The town manager of Southington, Garry Brumback, said taxpayers already provide a generous health care program for the town’s first responders.

Proponents argue the legislation concerning the police would undo changes made in 1993, which excluded mental and emotional injuries suffered by officers that did not arise from physical injury.

“It’s about time we recognize that the brain is part of the body, and we should treat it and its injuries like an injury to any other part of the body,” said Sen. Cathy Osten, D-Sprague, a main proponent of the bill. “We have to remember every day that mental health should be a priority along with physical health. Each day we need to provide these first responders with whatever support they need.”

The concept of extending workers’ compensation benefits to police with mental injuries has been raised at the state Capitol for about the last five years.

Last year, Newtown police Officer Thomas Bean appeared before lawmakers and spoke about experiencing depression, anxiety and suicidal thoughts since responding to the December 2012 shooting massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School. He said he couldn’t return to work and was receiving about half his pay through Newtown’s long-term disability insurance plan. If he were receiving workers’ compensation benefits for his post-traumatic distress disorder, he’d receive more than 66 percent of his net pay, including an average of overtime pay, tax-free.

The State Board of Mediation and Arbitration ruled last week that the Newtown police contract requires the town to pay Bean, 40, half his salary until retirement. Newtown’s insurance company is paying 50 percent of his salary through June.

The issue of workers’ compensation for police with PTSD also came up in 2010, when an officer who responded to a brutal chimpanzee attack in Stamford told lawmakers about experiencing “a depression beyond depression.”

 

Copyright 2015 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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New York Lawmakers Look to Regulate Motorized Bicycles


New York Lawmakers Look to Regulate Motorized Bicycles

Two New York state lawmakers from Queens have introduced bills to regulate motorized bicycles used commercially with safety and insurance requirements.

Sen. Jose Peralta and Assembly member Aravella Simotas propose that the Department of Motor Vehicles maintain a registry, establish safety regulations, and set minimum liability insurance coverage.

Drivers would have to register them with the DMV.

The legislators say the scooters have become part of the fabric of small businesses throughout New York City making deliveries. They say attempts to ban them haven’t worked, and accidents can create big liability issues.

Simotas says she’s heard from too many people about near misses and being hit by riders.

Under the proposed legislation, traffic infractions would be punishable by fines of $25 to $100.

 

Copyright 2015 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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Iroquois Group Hires Fawber as Regional Manager in Pennsylvania


Iroquois Group Hires Fawber as Regional Manager in Pennsylvania

The Iroquois Group hired Matt Fawber as regional manager in Pennsylvania. Fawber will be part of the Iroquois Group’s Mid-Atlantict team.

Fawber joins Iroquois after 20 years on the carrier side of the insurance industry. He started his career with Commercial Union as a claims trainee before moving into the marketing department. He spent time with The Hartford and most recently worked for Millers Mutual, handling various territories throughout Pennsylvania. He earned the CIC designation in 2014.

As regional manager for Iroquois, Fawber is responsible for increasing agency membership and enhancing relationships with member agencies and carrier-partners, primarily in central Pennsylvania.

Headquartered in Allegany, New York, the Iroquois Group is a network of independent insurance agencies with more than 2,250 member agencies in 39 states.

 

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For P/C Insurers 2014 Was Better Than Average Year


For P/C Insurers 2014 Was Better Than Average Year

Analysts who predicted the U.S. property/casualty industry would have a tough time topping its 2013 results in 2014 were largely correct as there was some slippage.

However, while property/casualty insurers were not as profitable as they were in 2013, they did manage an underwriting profit again in 2014 and other 2014 metrics were better than historic averages.

Insurers’ net income fell 12.5 percent to $55.5 billion in 2014 from $63.4 billion in 2013, and the industry’s overall profitability dropping to 8.4 percent from 10.2 percent, according to the annual financial results reported by ISO and the Property Casualty Insurers Association of America (PCI).

Source: PCI/ISO

Source: PCI/ISO

Insurers’ combined ratio was 97.0 in 2014, a small deterioration from 96.2 in 2013.

Net written premium growth slowed slightly from 4.4 percent in 2013 to 4.1 percent in 2014. Growth for insurers writing mostly commercial lines slowed the most,  at 3.0 percent in 2014 down from 4.0 percent in 2013, while premium growth for insurers writing mostly personal lines accelerated to 5.8 percent in 2014. Insurers writing more balanced books of business saw premium growth slip to 3.3 percent from 4.1 percent.

Policyholders’ surplus increased by $21.3 billion in 2014 to $674.7 billion, a new record high.

Moderate Year

Insurers have reason to feel good for what was “another moderately good year,” according to Robert Gordon, PCI’s senior vice president for policy development and research.

“The industry’s profitability, premium growth, and underwriting ratios all performed better than long-term historical averages, and policyholders’ surplus reached record levels,” he said.

Dr. Robert P. Hartwig and Dr. Steven N. Weisbart, both of the Insurance Information Institute, agree that 2014 was a year of moderation.

“The industry’s performance in 2014 could be considered a return to long-term trends, neither as strongly profitable as in 2013 nor as catastrophe-impacted as in 2011 and 2012,” the I.I.I. economists said in their analysis.

Cat Losses

While profitability, premium growth, and underwriting ratios performed better than average, insurers were helped in 2014 by below-average catastrophe losses. Property losses from catastrophes striking the U.S. grew $2.6 billion to $15.5 billion in 2014 from $12.9 billion in 2013. The $15.5 billion in direct catastrophe losses were $7.2 billion below the $22.7 billion average for the past 10 years.

“Right now, good underwriting results are a must for insurers. But with much of the improvement in underwriting results for the last two years attributable to moderate catastrophe losses and dependent on continued reserve releases, one has to wonder just how sustainable the net gains on underwriting will be,” said Beth Fitzgerald, president of ISO Insurance Programs and Analytic Services.

Harwtig and Wesibart said the industry’s ability to fully recoup its losses to surplus even in the event of disasters like Sandy, which produced $18.8 billion in insured losses in 2012, is “continued evidence of the P/C insurance industry’s remarkable resilience in the face of extreme adversity.”

The bottom line, said the I.I.I. analysts, is that the industry “is, and will remain, extremely well capitalized and financially prepared to pay very large-scale losses in 2015 and beyond.”

Investments

Insurers’ net investment income – primarily interest on bonds and dividends from stocks – dropped 2.5 percent to $46.2 billion last year, down 16.2 percent from its peak of $55.1 billion in 2007.

“The drop in investment income is a result of historically low investment yields as the economy slowly recovers from the financial crisis and its aftermath,” Fitzgerald said.

Looking ahead, Hartwig and Weisbart said personal and commercial lines exposures should continue to increase along with GDP growth and continuing improvement in the job market. Job growth will benefit workers’ compensation insurers in particular.

Highlights of 2014

Some highlights of 2014 results as reported by ISO and PCI:

Net written premiums rose $19.5 billion, or 4.1 percent, to $496.6 billion for 2014 from $477.0 billion for 2013. That growth was down from 4.4 percent in 2013 but above the 1.6 percent average of the last 10 years.
Net gains on underwriting decreased from $15.2 billion in 2013 to $12.3 billion in 2014, a change mainly attributable to the growth in net losses and loss adjustment expenses, which grew by $19.7 billion, or 6.2 percent, to $334.7 billion. The increase in overall LLAE is predominantly due non- catastrophe losses. Private insurers’ net LLAE from catastrophes grew $2.8 billion to $16.8 billion in 2014, while other net LLAE rose $16.9 billion, or 5.6 percent, to $317.9 billion in 2014 from $301.0 billion in 2013.
Policyholders’ surplus climbed $21.3 billion to a record high $674.7 billion as of December 31, 2014, from $653.4 billion at year-end 2013. Additions to surplus in 2014 included insurers’ $55.5 billion in net income after taxes and $11.5 billion in unrealized capital gains on investments (not included in net income).
The property/casualty industry’s results include the contribution of mortgage and financial guaranty (M&FG) insurers. Excluding M&FG insurers, the industry’s rate of return fell to 8.2 percent in 2014 from 9.8 percent in 2013. Q4 2014 Results

The industry closed out 2014 with good underwriting results in the fourth quarter. According to the ISO and PCI report:

Fourth quarter 2014 net gains on underwriting improved to 6.4 percent of the $125.3 billion in premiums earned during the period compared with fourth quarter 2013.
The industry’s combined ratio improved to 94.9 in fourth quarter 2014 from 97.2 in fourth quarter 2013. At 94.9, the combined ratio was the lowest recorded in nearly three decades. The fourth quarter combined ratio has averaged 106.5 since 1986 but has reached as high as 123.3 in 1992.
Net income fell to $17.8 billion in fourth-quarter 2014, down $2.9 billion from $20.7 billion in fourth-quarter 2013.
Property/casualty insurers’ annualized rate of return on average surplus fell to 10.6 percent in fourth-quarter 2014 from 13.0 percent a year earlier. Excluding M&FG insurers, the insurance industry’s annualized rate of return fell to 10.5 percent in fourth-quarter 2014 from 12.8 percent in fourth-quarter 2013 as net income after taxes dropped to $17.2 billion from $19.9 billion.
Fourth-quarter 2014 net gains on underwriting climbed more than 60 percent to $8.0 billion from $5.0 billion in fourth-quarter 2013.

Related:

P/C Insurers Face Challenge to Match 2013 Results in 2014
2013 P/C Insurers’ Results Show Net Gain on Underwriting– First Since 2007
A.M. Best: P/C Insurers Post Underwriting Profit, Record Surplus for 2014

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ING to Sell 13 Billion of Shares in Insurer NN Group to Institutional Investors


ING to Sell 13 Billion of Shares in Insurer NN Group to Institutional Investors

ING Groep NV is selling a 1.2 billion-euro ($1.3 billion) stake in insurer NN Group NV as it seeks to exit the company by the end of next year.

ING is selling 45 million shares of NN to institutional investors, decreasing its stake to 42.4 percent after the transaction from 54.8 percent, it said in a statement. The shares are being offered from 25.35 euros to the price of a share when the sale closes, and there is demand for all the stock on offer, according to an update on the deal seen by Bloomberg.

ING, which sold NN in an initial public offering last July, is among a host of shareholders paring their stakes in companies in Europe, where funds raised from share sales in the first quarter of 2015 outpaced the U.S. and Asia combined, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. Citigroup Inc. in March sold its stake in Akbank TAS, Turkey’s second-largest bank by market value after negotiating an early end to a lockup agreement.

NN Group has agreed to repurchase its ordinary shares from ING for 150 million euros as part of the deal, according to the statement from ING, the biggest Dutch financial-services company. Shares of NN have climbed 31 percent since it joined the Amsterdam stock exchange.

Bank of America Corp., Goldman Sachs Group Inc., ING Bank NV and JPMorgan Chase & Co. are managing the sale.

Copyright 2015 Bloomberg.

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Chubb Hires 3 from Fireman’s Fund High-Net-Worth Team


Chubb Hires 3 from Fireman’s Fund High-Net-Worth Team

Three insurance professionals with experience in the high-net-worth customer segment have joined Chubb Personal Insurance (CPI).

Jennifer Celmer, Robert Haibi and Eric Shanks have been appointed to management roles at Chubb after having served in various capacities in the personal insurance operations at Fireman’s Fund Insurance Co. (FFIC).

In April, Allianz Global Corporate & Specialty (AGCS) completed the sale of the U.S. personal lines business of Fireman’s Fund Insurance Co. to ACE Ltd. for $365 million. Most of the business was high-net-worth.

ACE said it would offer jobs to most of the 500 FFIC personal lines employees.

In her new role, Celmer will serve as a worldwide underwriter for CPI’s Signature (large account) customer segment. She also will manage and help enhance the long-term strategy of the Custom Solutions team, which provides customized insurance for Signature clients who have unique and complex risks. Celmer had served as the high-net-worth segment leader for personal insurance at Fireman’s Fund. Prior to that, she held various positions at AIG Private Client Group, including eastern zone underwriting manager. She began her career as a personal insurance underwriter in New Jersey for Chubb 17 years ago.

As national brokers marketing manager, Haibi will be responsible for managing relationships with CPI’s national broker and agent partners to help drive profitable growth. At Fireman’s Fund, Haibi served as the personal insurance national distribution executive. He previously held positions with AIG Private Client Group, including central zone executive and southeast region marketing manager. He entered the insurance industry 19 years ago as a claims representative in New York for Progressive Insurance.

As a market segment manager, Shanks will have responsibilities related to marketing, services, underwriting and business strategy for Signature business. Most recently, Shanks oversaw the product management and high-net-worth underwriting departments for Fireman’s Fund’s personal insurance division. He previously held positions at AIG Private Client Group, including central zone executive, and at Chubb in Chicago, New Jersey and St. Louis. Shanks began his career as underwriter for Safeco Insurance 22 years ago.

Around the same time that it was selling the FFIC personal liens business, AGCS began integrating the FFIC commercial business into into its own commercial lines business.

The moves by Allianz signaled the end of the Fireman’s Fund brand name that had been in existence for more than 150 years.


Related:

Allianz Completes Sale of Fireman’s Fund Personal Lines to ACE
Allianz to Assume Fireman’s Fund Commercial Lines

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Marsh Partners with FireEye on Cyber Risk Management Program


Marsh Partners with FireEye on Cyber Risk Management Program

Marsh and cybersecurity company FireEye, Inc., have collaborated to offer clients Marsh Cyber OASIS (Objective Assessment Scorecard of Information Security). This service is designed to assists clients by providing an objective evaluation of their organization’s ability to detect and respond to cyber-attacks, and the strength of their technical infrastructure.

“Large data breaches have led to pricing and capacity volatility in the cyber insurance market, especially in the retail and health care sectors,” said Thomas Reagan, Marsh’s Cyber Practice leader. “Although companies are spending millions of dollars on cybersecurity controls and capabilities, the effectiveness of these investments is not always clear to underwriters. Through our collaboration with FireEye, we can help clients provide the objective and more detailed information that will help insurance markets to better understand their risk profile.”

The Marsh Cyber OASIS process begins with an onsite assessment by FireEye-Mandiant consultants, who, through a combination of interviews and technical tools, assess and compare existing security and incident-response capabilities, processes, and tools with practices. Once complete, clients receive a comprehensive report detailing their current state of cyber security readiness with recommendations for improvement.

“After the massive, public data breaches that came to define 2014, data security has become a board-level issue and organizations are moving quickly to better evaluate and manage their cybersecurity risk,” said Jurgen Kutscher, vice president of security consulting services at FireEye. “By working with Marsh, we’re able to help evaluate an organization’s threat profile and the efficacy of its current systems to provide recommendations on how to improve the firm’s overall posture across the risk spectrum.”

FireEye has invented a virtual machine-based security platform that provides real-time threat protection to enterprises and governments worldwide against the next generation of cyber attacks. These highly sophisticated cyber attacks easily circumvent traditional signature-based defenses, such as next-generation firewalls, IPS, anti-virus, and gateways.

The FireEye Threat Prevention Platform provides real-time, dynamic threat protection without the use of signatures to protect an organization across the primary threat vectors and across the different stages of an attack life cycle. The core of the FireEye platform is a virtual execution engine, complemented by dynamic threat intelligence, to identify and block cyber attacks in real time. FireEye has over 3,400 customers across 67 countries, including over 250 of the Fortune 500.

FireEye and Mandiant are registered trademarks or trademarks of FireEye, Inc. in the United States and other countries.

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Asian-American Groups Target Harvard UNC for Alleged Racial Bias in Admissions


Asian-American Groups Target Harvard UNC for Alleged Racial Bias in Admissions

A coalition of more than 60 Asian-American groups filed a federal discrimination action against Harvard University, claiming racial bias in undergraduate admissions. The administrative complaint follows the filing of a lawsuit in federal court against Harvard in November.

The administrative complaint filed Friday with the U.S. Education Department’s Office for Civil Rights claims Asian- American students with almost perfect college entrance-exam scores, high grade-point averages, academic awards and leadership positions are more likely to be rejected than similar applicants of other races.

Harvard denies discriminating.

The complaint, also filed with the U.S. Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division, reflects longstanding concern among academically high-performing Asian-Americans that they’re held to a higher admissions standard at elite U.S. colleges.

While Harvard officials hadn’t seen the complaint, Robert Iuliano, the school’s general counsel, said in a statement that the college’s admissions policies comply fully with the law and are essential to the school’s mission.

In November, Students for Fair Admissions Inc., a group which said it represents unidentified college applicants, filed a federal lawsuit in Boston against Harvard’s governing board, alleging that the school illegally limited admissions of Asian- Americans. The same group also filed a federal suit against the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in November. In its answer filed March 24 in federal court, the university “expressly denied” that it discriminates “in any aspect of UNC-Chapel Hill undergraduate admissions.”

Asian-Americans represent 5.6 percent of the U.S. population. At Harvard, Asian-Americans made up 21 percent of the freshman class admitted in March, more than any other group other than whites. In 2006, the percentage was 17.7. Harvard this year accepted 5.3 percent of all applicants, second to Stanford University in its selectivity, the schools said.

Seth Waxman, Paul Wolfson, Debo P. Adegbile and Felicia Ellsworth of Wilmer Cutler Pickering Hale & Dorr LLP are listed on the filings as representing Harvard. According to documents in the UNC case, Michael Scudder of Skadden Arps Slate Meagher & Flom LLP is representing the school, along with the North Carolina’s attorney general’s office.

The Harvard case is Students for Fair Admissions Inc. v. President and Fellows of Harvard College, 1:14-cv-14176-ADB, District of Massachusetts (Boston). The UNC case is Students For Fair Admissions Inc. v. University of North Carolina, 1:14- cv-00954, U.S. District Court, Middle District of North Carolina (Greensboro).

 

 

Copyright 2015 Bloomberg.

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Finance Execs Question Effectiveness of Regulation to Prevent Future Crises


Finance Execs Question Effectiveness of Regulation to Prevent Future Crises

Chief executive officers and chairmen of some of Europe’s biggest banks and insurance companies called for more studies on the effectiveness and impact of regulation to prevent financial crises.

While macroprudential tools help prevent bubbles and are necessary to address system-wide risk, applying them wrongly could endanger financial stability, they said in a statement Monday. They cited the low interest rates prevailing in much of the world as an area where policy could have unintended consequences.

“It is as yet unclear how effective prudential and monetary tools are at limiting systemic risk and how they may impact the real economy, especially in advanced economies with increasingly complex financial systems,” they said in a joint statement published by the World Economic Forum. The statement follows up on discussions in January at the forum’s annual meeting in Davos, Switzerland.

The signatories included HSBC Holdings plc’s Douglas Flint, BlackRock Inc.’s Larry Fink, Deutsche Bank AG’s Anshu Jain, Zurich Insurance’s Martin Senn and John Lipsky, a former first deputy managing director of the International Monetary Fund who is now a professor at Johns Hopkins University.

The 2008 financial crisis prompted the adoption of regulations in many countries to curb excessive risk-taking that could disrupt markets and endanger the broader economy. These include rules to prevent bubbles in investment and to make companies less likely to cause havoc if they go bankrupt.

“Macroprudential policies could play a critical role in ensuring financial stability in the future, if its governance and potential side effects are managed adequately,” UBS Group AG’s Axel Weber said in the statement.

Copyright 2015 Bloomberg.

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Missouri Jury Assesses 82M Verdict Against Debt Collection Firm


Missouri Jury Assesses 82M Verdict Against Debt Collection Firm

A Jackson County, Mo. jury has assessed about $82 million in damages against a debt collection firm that demanded payment from the wrong woman.

The jury awarded $251,000 in damages to Maria Guadalupe Mejia Alcantara and assessed $82 million in punitive damages against Portfolio Recovery Associates, LLC, a debt collection firm.

The Kansas City Star reported the case began two years ago when Alcantara learned she was being sued by the company for not paying a credit card debt of about $1,130 that wasn’t her debt.

Jury awardHer lawyers filed a counter-claim, alleging violation of a federal fair debt collection act. The jury returned the award Monday.

Company spokesman Michael McKeon says PRA will ask the judge to set aside what McKeon calls an “outlandish” verdict that “defies all common sense.”

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