A U.S. appeals court has refused to overturn a ruling striking down Puerto Rico's countersignature law that required nonresident commercial insurance brokers to have the countersignature of a Puerto Rico resident agent before they could do business on the island. The decision brings agents and brokers closer to the elimination of countersignature statutes on the books, according to the Council of Insurance Agents & Brokers.
Net premiums written in 2005 by leading U.S. reinsurers fell by 13 percent, according to the most recent report from Benfield's Industry Analysis and Research Team. Reserving deficiencies and hurricane losses were the primary reasons for a 66 percent reduction in earnings for the 13 major U.S. reinsurers. Return on equity was reduced by nearly half and remained positive thanks only to total investment income of $8.5 billion, $2.4 billion higher than in 2004.
The Independent Insurance Agents & Brokers has opposed a Senate bill proposing an optional federal charter because the public is better served through local insurance regulations. The bill, known as the National Insurance Act of 2006, was sponsored by Sen. John Sununu, R-N.H., and Sen. Tim Johnson, D-S.D.
Adding to its international base, Assurex Global has announced the addition of new partners in Australia, Switzerland and Austria. OAMPS Insurance Brokers Ltd. in Australia; GWP Insurance Brokers in Switzerland; and Assurance Partners Versicherungsmakler und Beratung GmbH in Austria were named Assurex Global Partners.
CHEERS AND JEERS
A cheer went up from the handsome, green Integro booth when it was announced that the newly minted firm had won an award for the best booth during the annual conference of the Risk and Insurance Management Society Inc. in Honolulu in April. But another broker, who had been exhibiting for the last six years, wondered why Integro was able to garner a center-hall position. "We've been here six years, and Integro is brand new. Our floor space is bigger than theirs, but they get a wonderful prime spot. What's going on here?"
At a panel session during the annual convention of the Risk and Insurance Management Society Inc., where the CEOs of the largest insurers and brokers answered questions from RIMS leaders, the real story was how adept the panelists seemed to be at avoiding answers. Ellen Vinck, vice president of risk management at BAE Systems Ship Repair Inc. in San Diego, asked what happened to the millions of dollars that companies had been paying in contingent commissions. "I didn't receive a corresponding reduction in my premium," she remarked. None of the panelists had an explanation about why buyers were not getting rate reductions.
A.J.G. BUYS BROKER
Arthur J. Gallagher & Co. has bought Sobieski & Bradley Inc. of Salt Lake City, A.J.G. has announced. Terms of the transaction were not disclosed. Formed in 1987, Sobieski & Bradley Inc. is a wholesale insurance broker and managing general agent that provides property/casualty, professional liability, and other specialty insurance products and services for independent insurance agents and brokers located throughout the West. Michael Sobieski and his associates will continue to operate under the direction of Joel Cavaness, president of Risk Placement Services Inc., a subsidiary of Gallagher.
WILLIS ISSUES REPORT
Directors' and officers' liability insurance rates in the London market were largely unaffected by insurance industry losses following hurricanes Katrina, Rita and Wilma, according to the latest Willis Index for this coverage area for the first quarter of 2006.
--Compiled by staff from news and wire reports.
June 1, 2006
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