CATASTROPHE BONDS EXTEND GAINS
Catastrophe bonds, used by investors to bet against natural disasters, had as of the second week in September advanced for a record 10th straight week on fewer storms in the United States and improved capital markets.
The Swiss Re Cat Bond Price index rose 1.4 percent to 93.3 on Sept. 11, the biggest increase since Sept. of 2004. It's the longest streak of weekly gains since 2002, when Swiss Re began tracking the data.
The U.S. has so far escaped major storms this year after Hurricanes Ike and Gustav contributed to $25.2 billion in catastrophe losses in 2008.
The bonds fell last year following the collapse of Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc. and after six hurricanes struck the U.S.
ALLSTATE SETTLES AGE BIAS CLASS ACTION
Allstate Insurance Co. has agreed to pay $4.5 million to about 90 former employees to settle an age discrimination lawsuit, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission announced in September.
The 2004 litigation with the EEOC stems from the insurers efforts in 2000 to convert its 15,000-member agent workforce to independent contractors from regular employees. The EEOC said Allstate had adopted a hiring moratorium for a period of one year, or while severance benefits were being received, that had a disproportionate impact on workers over age 40 because more than 90 percent of the agents subjected to it were in that age group.
MERRILL EMPLOYEES SUE, ALLEGING DISCRIMINATION
Five fire safety directors of West Indian descent have sued Bank of America unit Merrill Lynch, alleging discrimination.
In a complaint filed, the men said they worked for between six and 17 years at Merrill's World Financial Center in New York.
The men said that after the Sept. 11, attacks they were subjected to a hostile work environment at Merrill Lynch. Even though the men were English speakers, they say they were ordered to attend an "English for Professionals Pronunciation Workshop" at Pace University.
According to the complaint, while Merrill and American Building Maintenance Inc., the plaintiff's direct employer, said the men were fired because they could not perform their jobs, they were actually fired because of "skin color" and because their accents that pegged them as "foreign.".
The plaintiffs want their jobs back, plus damages.
DINALLO CRITICIZES CONTINGENT COMMISSIONS
Former New York Insurance Commissioner Eric Dinallo denounced brokerages' use of contingent commissions at an insurance industry conference in September.
Dinallo said that although he doesn't think regulators will abolish the use of such commissions and although the practice may not be illegal, it should still be watched.
Dinallo said that client backlash against contingent commissions is somewhat rare because many buying decisions are based on price, regardless of whether a broker accepts contingent commissions or not.
Dinallo now teaches at the Stern School at New York University.
--Compiled by staff from news and wire reports.
October 15, 2009
Copyright 2009© LRP Publications