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Sofia Ashmore

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0 58

Pegasus Legal Funding LLC, (Pegasus) the legal funding company, is concerned with the current state of motor vehicle insurance and the fact that a variety of “discount” insurance providers are selling consumers insurance policies that offer a low, and in most cases, minimum amount of required coverage. It was announced last week that Walmart has recently joined the pool of discount insurance providers in a partnership with AutoInsurance.com.

The partnership as reported will allow customers to comparison shop for auto insurance on AutoInsurance.com’s website, comparing the prices at several insurance companies with the consumer’s current insurance policy.

In our experience, many discount insurers offer consumers policies that appear to be a “good value”, but in reality that is not always the case. Most often the policy can be problematic because it offers minimum liability protection and no protection in the form of uninsured/underinsured motorist protection. As such, individuals involved in auto accidents with motorists that have minimum polices will also have limited recourse for injuries sustained in the accident. In the wake of the new announcement it is anticipated that the new “discounted” automobile insurance offered by Walmart will no doubt add to the growing number of under insured motorists on the road.

“We see many of our clients going through what apparently many people across the country experience. Insurance companies notoriously attempt to withhold money from customers within the bounds of the law from those who deserve compensation for their injuries. In fact, many of our clients are unaware that they could have pursued a claim against their own insurance policy if they had purchased the available coverage” said Pegasus’ Account Services Manager, Jessica Simpson.

Pegasus has been on the forefront of providing advances for motor vehicle accident cases. They have experience dealing with automobile insurance providers and are versed in uninsured/underinsured insurance coverage.

0 44

Universal Insurance Holdings, Inc. (NYSE: UVE) today reported net income of $13.5 million, or $0.38 per diluted share, an increase of $0.09, for the first quarter of 2014, compared to net income of $12.0 million, or $0.29 per diluted share, for the same period in 2013.

“Our strong top- and bottom-line performance in the first quarter reflects actions that we have taken over the past several quarters,” said Sean P. Downes, the Company’s Chairman, President and Chief Executive Officer. “We believe that our focused initiatives, including a controlled exposure reduction in Florida and prudent expansion in other states, should lead to significant savings in reinsurance costs while enhancing our competitive position. We also believe that our disciplined pricing analytics and underwriting practices have provided us with a book of business that will continue to strengthen and grow organically. We remain committed to increasing shareholder returns by executing our strategy and maintaining the long-term financial strength of our company.”

First-Quarter 2014 & Recent Highlights

Net income and diluted EPS grew by $1.6 million and $0.09, respectively, compared to Q1 2013.
Continued growth in states outside of Florida, resulting in a 47.8% year-over-year increase in policy count.
Received a Certificate of Authority authorizing UPCIC to do business in Delaware, and submitted applications to expand into Indiana, Minnesota and Pennsylvania.
Paid dividends of $0.10 per share compared to $0.08 per share in Q1 2013.

First-Quarter 2014 Results

Net income for the first quarter of 2014 increased $1.6 million, or $0.09 per diluted share, compared to the first quarter of 2013, reflecting an increase in net investment income and the absence of net trading losses that occurred during the first quarter of 2013. Additionally, first quarter 2014 EPS benefitted from lower outstanding shares as a result of the cumulative share repurchases made by the Company since April 2013.

Net income increased notwithstanding decreases in net earned premiums, policy fees and other revenues due in part to a reduction in the number of policies in force in Florida. The Company has taken a disciplined approach to its underwriting standards in Florida and has in certain cases decided not to renew policies that it believes had inadequate premiums relative to projected risks and expenses. However, the Company has recently taken action to reduce or reverse attrition in Florida including reducing overall rates for homeowners’ insurance by 2.4% effective in January 2014 for new business and March 2014 for renewals. These actions have resulted in an increase in policy count for new business in the first quarter of 2014 compared to 2013. The Company has also taken steps it believes will result in an improvement in retention and new business by investing in personnel to expedite the payment of claims and streamline the underwriting process. The Company believes these efforts have resulted in a more robust, rate adequate and profitable book of business.

At March 31, 2014, stockholders’ equity was $171.0 million compared to $175.6 million at December 31, 2013 reflecting share repurchases of $14.7 million and an increase in retained earnings of $10.1 million.

Share Repurchases

During the first quarter of 2014, the Company repurchased approximately 1.2 million shares of its common stock at a weighted average purchase price of $12.03 per share. Each repurchase was at a discount to the then-current market price of the Company’s common stock.

Cash Dividends

On January 30, 2014, the Company announced that its board of directors declared a cash dividend of $0.10 per share of common stock which was paid on March 3, 2014, to shareholders of record on February 19, 2014 consistent with the Company’s previously announced intention to increase its regular quarterly dividend to $0.10 per share from $0.08 per share beginning with the first quarter of 2014.

Also, on April 16, 2014, the Company announced that its board of directors declared a cash dividend of $0.10 per share of common stock, payable on July 3, 2014 to shareholders of record on June 19, 2014.

If declared and paid as intended, the annual aggregate dividend in 2014 would be $0.40 for each common share.

Financial Results Presentation

The Company will make available an audio recording of a presentation discussing its first quarter 2014 financial results on May 8, 2014, at approximately 5:00 p.m. Eastern. The presentation will be pre-recorded and there will be no opportunity for live questions. The audio recording will be available at www.universalinsuranceholdings.com until June 8, 2014.

0 41

Millions of over-55s are failing to include their family in important decisions about their retirement income with potentially devastating consequences, Aviva’s latest Real Retirement Report shows.

The findings show that money is often seen as a taboo subject within the family, leading to important decisions being brushed under the carpet. This apparent reluctance to share and discuss important financial decisions within the family comes at a time when the government is introducing more flexibility and choice in the way people take their retirement income, as outlined in this year’s Budget.

The research also highlights that people are failing to protect their loved ones by not getting the basics of a will in place, despite recognising the importance of inheritance for their loved ones.

The Spring 2014 edition of Aviva’s Real Retirement Report explores the views of those from three distinctive stages of retirement – pre-retiree (aged 55-64 years) retiring (aged 65-74 years) and long-term retired (aged over-75 years). The report investigates the role of the family in retirement, and the way in which people consider their family in their retirement plans and their decision-making.

It reveals that while having a conversation with family members about retirement plans and wishes is a crucial step, for many, the idea of discussing financial matters is often off-limits.

Subject of money is taboo

Many of the over-55s with family want to keep their financial position private with more than a quarter (28%) of those with family saying they have not had a conversation with either their spouse or their family about their retirement finances.

Nearly two-thirds (64%) of over-55s say they have revealed their financial retirement plans to their spouse, but only a fifth (20%) have updated both their spouse and family on their plans.

Among those that have not discussed their financial affairs with family, half (51%) feel it is a personal matter. A quarter of people (25%) say they have not had a discussion because they do not have full view of their finances, which is highest among the 55-64s (32%).

Lack of estate planning

More than a third (37%) say leaving some inheritance to make sure their family are provided for when they are gone, is important to them. Yet only 59% of over 55s have put a will in place, rising to 76% in the over-75s.

Factoring family into retirement choices

Worryingly, while family is important, less than a quarter (22%) have chosen options that provide some income to their spouse should they pass away. Although they wish they could provide some financial support to their family, 15% say they cannot afford to do so.

Priorities in retirement

With retirement promising more time and freedom away from the workforce, over-55s are most preoccupied with pursuing a lifestyle of personal interests and hobbies.

Top of the over-55s list of things to enjoy in retirement are: more time to do what I want (66%), spending time on hobbies (45%) and travelling (41%).

An interest in pursuing individual interests only accelerates with age, with the over-75s appearing most keen on having more time to do what they want (70%) and spending time on hobbies (53%).

Family is also important to the over-55s. Some 44% said they want to live close enough to their family to spend time with them. Yet this is a higher priority for women (48%) than men (40%).

Guiding the over-55s

With guidance for consumers emerging as a key theme from this year’s Budget, the over-55s say they would most like assistance on how they can make the most of their retirement income (21%). Preparing for the possibility of long-term care also features on their list of things they would like guidance on (18%), rising to 33% in the over-75s. Only 5% are looking for guidance on how they can protect their families through their retirement choices.

Clive Bolton, managing director, retirement solutions, Aviva, said:

“Retirement planning has many benefits including offering the opportunity to maximise income from savings and investments, and achieving the lifestyle you want for yourself and your family.

“These findings reveal a stark difference between what people want to do about their retirement finances in respect of their families, and what they put into practice. The reality is that failing to address the needs of those close to you could mean they may lose out.

“With the changes to retirement income announced in this year’s Budget, retirees are going to have far more freedom and choice in how they use their savings, and it’s important they consider all eventualities, including the needs of their family. It is matter of finding the right solutions with the help of professional guidance and having open conversations with everyone who could be affected by the choices made at retirement.”

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The European Insurance and Occupational Pensions Authority (EIOPA) launched today an EU*wide stress test for the insurance sector.

The test package comprises two modules. The core module of the exercise includes two adverse market scenarios, covering financial asset stresses (sovereigns, corporate bonds and equities) as well, as shocks to real estate assets prices’ and interest rates stresses. The adverse market scenarios are complemented by a set of independent insurance*specific shocks covering mortality, longevity, insufficient reserves and catastrophe shocks. The second module addresses the impact of a low yield environment and is a follow*up to EIOPA’s Opinion on Supervisory Response to a Prolonged Low Interest Rate Environment. The adverse market scenarios have been developed in cooperation with the European Systemic Risk Board (ESRB).
It is envisaged that the stress test will cover at least 50% of the market share in each country both of life and non*life segments. Its results will provide a clear vision on the resilience of the insurance sector to different shocks and identify issues that require further supervisory response.

The technical basis of the stress test is the new insurance regulatory regime Solvency II, which will apply as of 1 January 2016. Simultaneous with the launch of the exercise, EIOPA publishes the Solvency II Technical Specifications for the preparatory phase that will provide a ground for undertakings to value assets and liabilities and to calculate solvency/minimum capital requirements and own funds.

The exercise will be run in close cooperation with national supervisory authorities (NSAs). The NSAs will collect data from undertakings in July 2014 and validate the information before it is aggregated at the EU level. To improve consistency in the calculations, during August and September 2014, EIOPA in cooperation with NSAs will conduct an EU*wide validation of the data received. Results of the stress test analysis will be disclosed in November 2014.

To facilitate the participation of undertakings in the exercise EIOPA will hold a workshop and will launch a Q&A tool to address queries raised by participants when completing the test.

Gabriel Bernardino, Chairman of EIOPA, said: “EIOPA’s stress test is focused on the overall resilience of the insurance sector in the EU and on the identification of its major vulnerabilities in the emergence of relevant shocks. I believe that the design and the magnitude of the shocks will properly stress insurance companies’ financial position and that the conclusions of the exercise will allow EIOPA and NSAs to define areas for further investigation and to focus supervisory responses”.

0 21

Combined Insurance, a leading provider of individual supplemental accident, disability, health and life insurance products, and an ACE Group company, continues its commitment to help military veterans find meaningful employment by hosting a Non Commissioned Officers Association (NCOA) career expo at its corporate headquarters in Glenview, Ill.

This is the first time an NCOA job fair will be hosted onsite at a participating company. More than 30 additional companies will participate in the career expo, which takes place on May 6, 2014, from 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. in the AON building at 1000 N. Milwaukee Ave. in Glenview, Ill.

In its continuing effort to assist military veterans returning to civilian life with opportunities for meaningful employment and access to other needed resources, Combined Insurance has partnered with military veteran, Lon Hodge and his service dog, Gander. Hodge is the founder of the Service Dog Education and Assistance Foundation, a non-profit organization dedicated to raising awareness about and increasing access to service dogs for military veterans who suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), as well as other physical and emotional disabilities. Hodge will be conducting hourly breakout sessions, sharing his experiences and providing information and education on the benefits of service dogs.

Combined Insurance has committed to hiring 4,000 vets by the end of 2016. To help reach that goal, the company is further leveraging its involvement with the NCOA, which connects experienced and diverse U.S. military talent with America’s employers, by regularly participating in the organization’s nationwide career expos that are scheduled throughout this year.

Recognized as a top employer of military veterans, Combined Insurance was recently ranked 6 on G.I. Jobs magazine’s 2014 Military Friendly Employer list. More than 5,000 eligible companies compete each year for a spot on the list, which is made up of employers with strong military recruitment programs and meaningful job opportunities for transitioning service members and spouses seeking civilian employment. This was the company’s third year on the list and the second consecutive year in the top 10. Over the past three years, Combined Insurance has hired more than 1,300 military veterans.

“We know that military veterans can make great employees – especially for our industry,” said Joseph Pennington, U.S. Navy retired, and military program director for Combined Insurance. “They have very desirable traits and skills – they can lead and be led, they are responsible, disciplined, hard-working, and dedicated to helping others. We are excited and look forward to meeting with and finding some excellent candidates at the NCOA career expo in Glenview.”

Combined Insurance also is a member of the 100,000 Jobs Mission, a coalition of leading U.S. companies whose goal is to hire 100,000 transitioning service members and military vets by 2020, and uses other military recruiting resources such as TAP and Fleet and Family Support Centers, the Veterans Administration, state representatives and other local veteran organizations and military-specific job sites.

The NCOA is a congressionally chartered military non-profit 501(c)(19) organization that was established in 1960 to enhance and maintain the quality of life for noncommissioned and petty officers in all branches of the Armed Forces, National Guard, and Reserves. It is a leader in veteran’s employment assistance and has a strong voice on Capitol Hill and with the Veterans Administration.

For more information on Combined Insurance’s military veterans recruiting efforts and to view our military recruiting success video, visit www.combinedinsurance.com/military.
– See more at: http://news.acegroup.com/press-release/usa/combined-insurance-hosts-ncoa-military-veteran-job-fair-glenview-headquarters#sthash.MulKgH11.dpuf

0 8

It moves in insurance companies . While for decades they had a vision and knew the contract by customer number police today in most companies, the watchword is to focus on the customer.

In a hyper- competitive environment – especially in the field of damage insurance with the faculty give Hamon law the insured to terminate the insurance contract at any time – insurers are concerned , if possible to increase their portfolio , but also to keep the number of their customers.

Suffice to say that the sinews of war is customer knowledge . Customers who, for their part, are increasingly demanding , versatile , since a third of them consider changing insurance for a default quality of service .

As insurers have they made ​​efforts to invest in customer relations, seizing all opportunities to strengthen this relationship. It is traditionally done by the quality of the reception by phone, mail or email . Emphasis has rightly been placed on these relationships in the brokerage company Assured Associates: ” When a customer calls us, he has to deal with a single contact . Moreover , we ship 7,000 receipts per year for 2,500 customers, personalized letters , to which we add tips, information on regulations , proposals for sponsorship. We even offer training for entrepreneurs . The customer must feel that we are well-served by our personal commitment , “says Emmanuel Blachez , Manager of the company .

But on the side of companies , most of them are still organized in silos, brake if any interconnection between the different services and the aggregation of databases. Despite progress , the client on the phone is often put in relation with different services. ” Everything should converge towards a customer-centric culture and insurers will have to demonstrate a strategic commitment oriented around the customer. They must pass a particular customer segmentation by age, geolocation, socio-professional category … with behavioral segmentation , which requires a thorough knowledge of the customer , “says Jean -Luc Gambey , Partner Molitor Consult.

0 7

Create an online space dedicated to the insured is a way to strengthen the customer relationship. Today , it can make many acts of management of the contract.

The quality of customer service places an insurer today by a space dedicated customers online, totally secure and accessible 24h/24 and 7/7. Insurers and mutuals have all available to their customers placeholders . With a username and a password, the client connects easily and can access data at any time of his or her contract . The number of shares online is variable depending on the company and can range from producing estimates to the online subscription .

In recent years, the areas customers are generally much improved. From an ergonomic point of view, the site navigation is easier. New menus as tabs allow customers easier access to information and documents available. Moreover , the answers are dealt with more quickly and less technical . Guests have access to services increasingly numerous. A simple consultation contracts and obtaining certificates … have added many management decisions .

In the best case, the insured has the right to print their certificates, consult the available savings , his health refunds, make payments online, report a claim , have access to their email, or contact an advisor personalized advice . Some areas also allow customers pay for subscriptions online, as is the case for example at Axa France . “We offer 24 management actions , giving our members the ability to manage their contract by performing a change of address , marital status , vehicle jacks appointment to make a savings or pension balance or asking all questions about the management of their contracts. For this access to their dedicated space, we give our members a high degree of autonomy on the internet , “says Jean- Marc Willmann , a Managing Director Operations and Relationship Maif members .

0 12

Ever since entering Sri Lanka in 2005, Allianz has grown constantly. A big boost came with the end of the civil war in the island nation off the coast of India. Now, in addition to benefiting from the growing prosperity there, Allianz is also trying to spread its name and strong reputation. How this works in a market, where the ad spend of the insurance industry is amongst the highest worldwide, explains Surekha Alles, CEO Allianz Sri Lanka.

Can you give us a brief overview of your business in Sri Lanka?

Allianz entered the Sri Lankan market in 2005 as a greenfield operation. We were the fastest growing insurer from inception, and achieved underwriting profits from our second year of operations: this was just one of the many ‘firsts’ we notched up within a short time span. Our success with property and casualty insurance prompted us to set up the life insurance operation in 2009.

We started up with just five people. Today, our staff strength has expanded to 650 people and an additional 852 active life insurance agents.

So what’s the environment like now in Sri Lanka?

We entered the market as the long civil war there was coming to an end and peace talks were in progress. Four years later, when peace finally came, the positive sentiments that followed generated tremendous growth in the former war-torn areas of the country.

GDP rose to its present annual growth rate of 6.5 percent, underpinned by low unemployment, higher personal disposable income and increased consumer credit extended by the banking sector. These factors resulted in healthy domestic demand and consumption, and per capita income is expected to grow from 2,866 US dollars today to 4,000 US dollars by 2016.

The government also focused on infrastructure development, especially in upgrading the road network in the country including building expressways – Allianz was happy to partner in insuring construction of the Southern expressway, the first highway project in Sri Lanka. The development of the road infrastructure has substantially improved land connectivity, which in turn, contributed towards reviving economic activity and also improved people’s mobility.

Continued economic recovery has resulted in the rapid growth of the middle income segment, creating huge potential for the insurance business.

What are the challenges you face in Sri Lanka?

First of all, insurance penetration remains low. Only 13 percent of the entire population has a life insurance policy.

There is also the added task of convincing people of the need to insure themselves against future calamities. Many people in this country distrust insurance sales personnel, because they have had negative experiences when doing business with some of them and also find it difficult to understand the complicated legal jargon they used.

So what are you doing to change perceptions?

Allianz Lanka rigorously follows the Allianz sales code of conduct and ethical business practices. As a result, our customers find doing business with us a refreshing change. We are confident that the ethics we follow when approaching a customer, gaining his confidence, obtaining his business, and being there for him at his moment of truth, has helped to improve the image of the insurance sales professional in Sri Lanka. Our ethical business practices have also ensured that our return business is high, which has resulted in continuous expansion of our customer base.

What is it like as a relative newcomer to the market?

It has been a challenge for Allianz that, as one of the newest insurers in the market, many of the big players have established bases dating back over a quarter century in time, with captive business that has kept them in the lead. But although they may have had the advantage over us in terms of base and business, we have been successful in making significant inroads into the large captive business of our competitors.

Have people’s needs changed over the years and if so, have you been able to adjust to this change?

Yes, we see that there has been a change in Sri Lanka in recent years, in terms of what people look for in an insurance policy. People now focus more on investment than on protection, and the most attractive policies to them are those that combine insurance with investment options. I am pleased to say that we were geared to meet this rather radical shift in demand, and came up with Universal Life and Unit Link, which took the market by storm.

And, the other way around, has Allianz Sri Lanka changed its focus over the years?

Sure. When we first came in, our focus was on large multinationals and corporates, but we have now extended into the retail market and reached out to low income customers as well. With the recent revival in economic activity, hitherto inaccessible and underdeveloped markets have become more accessible and attractive. In anticipation of this business expansion, we designed products that met the requirements of this new rural market segment, whose needs and wants differ from those of our urban customers. Our personal accident and natural death cover, for instance, has a very nominal premium and a death benefit that is proving very popular with our outstation customers.

How do you propagate your brand in Sri Lanka?

We are gratified that Allianz, as a strong global brand, has gained significant momentum in the Sri Lankan market.

The growth in our business is despite the fact that we do not advertise in Sri Lanka: in a market where the insurance industry has the highest ad spend, this could have been to our disadvantage. But word of mouth has been our main marketing tool from the day we set up in Sri Lanka. Word of mouth is probably the world’s most powerful marketing tool and the secret of gaining and retaining customers. We use it to its full advantage. The positive experience that people have with us during their moment of truth gives them the confidence to continue to insure with us, and to recommend us to others.

But the experience Sri Lankans have with Allianz is not just through business, right?

That’s right. We are always conscious of the needs of the communities we work in and set aside a share of profits to improving their quality of life. Our CSR initiatives assist marginalized communities in many parts of the island and rejuvenate the post-war economies of the North and East.

My Finance Coach was an initiative we have introduced to teach children how to manage their finances from a young age. We designed such initiatives to help establish a more financially savvy community in the future.

The Allianz global partnership of the Paralympics was brought to Sri Lankan shores through our partnership with the National Federation of Sports for the Disabled (NFSD) in Sri Lanka. Allianz Lanka provides the NFSD with monetary as well as non- monetary support through this partnership.

We also sponsored teenagers from impoverished homes to attend the football camps in Germany, and will continue to do so.

What are Sri Lanka’s new requirements for insurers?

The Regulation of Insurance Industry Act was amended in February 2011, which brought with it several changes to the existing regulatory environment. Allianz is well placed to adapt to these requirements. Chief among them is the requirement to split composite insurance business into two separate legal entities for Life and General business, and the proposed change from the rule based to the risk based capital model (RBC) which will be in place in 2016 . These are huge challenge for insurers, but we were structured to meet them from inception.

How does Allianz in Sri Lanka propose to address the new requirements of international investors and customers?

The resurgence of business confidence has several international investors and insurers looking at the Sri Lankan market. So it is an attractive market, despite the challenges. I am confident that, if we continue to follow prudent underwriting and investment strategies and do business in a manner that continues to identify us as being the most trusted insurer in the market, we will have the edge over our competition. With this in view, we will continue to ensure that our products and service standards are talked about in the years to come, and also pursue every avenue to create value for our customers and business partners, year after year.

0 17

Henri de Castries should now be extended to a new and probably final term as CEO of AXA.
In an interview, it evokes the great challenges facing Europe’s second largest insurer.

This should be a mere formality. Except bombshell , Henri de Castries will leave for another term as CEO of AXA four years after the general meeting of shareholders held on Wednesday. Appointed CEO in 2000 and CEO ten years later after a change in the governance of the group, and extend longevity rare for a boss of the CAC 40. “For now and for four more years if the General Assembly decides, I will be entirely devoted to the business in which I act for twenty- five years and which I am very fond … ” he says to ” echoes “.

However, according to our information this new mandate should be his last as CEO of the second largest insurer in Europe . Asked Henri de Castries is undeniable : “In a group that analyzes risks, the topic of leadership succession is paramount and must be prepared. We have a process of annual review of succession planning any coaching group , and I can not escape the rule , ” he says . And added: ” I ​​am fortunate to work with a competent team and high quality . There is not a designated successor, but a choice of possible successors including the Board of Directors will select the appropriate time. ”
Course to achieve the objectives

Also remains to be seen if AXA could , on this occasion , return to a separation of the roles of chairman and CEO. “It is not on the agenda , we will according to the circumstances ,” says its CEO . In the immediate future , he says be focused on the transformation of a group that has already significantly changed over the past few years , taking growing and often dominant positions in emerging markets (see below) . And as he said at the presentation of annual results in February , AXA is on track to achieve the strategic plan 2015.

At fifty -nine, Henri de Castries refuses to discuss later. “This is not news. But I have lots of ideas and full of desires , ” he smiles.

0 61

ACE Group, one of the world’s largest multi-line property and casualty insurers, announced today the appointment of Edward Kopp as the new Country President to lead its general insurance operations in Korea – ACE American Fire and Marine Insurance Company. Mr. Kopp, whose appointment was effective on 3 December replaces incumbent, Mr. Rob Wilkinson who has been appointed as the new Country President for ACE’s general insurance operations in Thailand.

Mr. Kopp has more than 20 years of experience in the financial services industry. He began his career in Deloitte & Touche in the US where he originates. During the course of his career, he has worked for some leading institutions in banking and insurance in increasingly more responsible roles – as Chief Operating Officer in Korea, Chief Executive Officer in Hong Kong and most recently as Deputy President and Chief Operating Officer for a joint-venture at a well-known financial group in Korea. Over the years, Mr. Kopp has developed a broad skillset encompassing business and product development, underwriting and channel management. As an all-rounder in operations, he is familiar with the leadership and management of Finance, Claims, Customer Service, HR and IT.

On this new appointment, Juan Luis Ortega, Regional President for ACE in Asia Pacific said, “Ed has been groomed over the past year to succeed Rob to ensure a smooth leadership transition. Under Rob’s stewardship, good foundations were established for innovative customer management, product development and operational efficiency. I have every confidence that Ed will strengthen these foundations and introduce even more innovation to continue the growth momentum for Korea.”

0 29

With Small Business Saturday on 7 December and one of the busiest times of year approaching, many SMEs, and particularly those in retail businesses, will hold more stock. Meanwhile, many will also recruit additional staff to help manage the rush. But AXA warns businesses to check their insurance is in order to cover any Christmas bulge.

Research from AXA Business Insurance shows that over half of SMEs in the retail sector will hold additional stock during their busy periods and Christmas is clearly one of these. Additionally, 15 per cent of businesses will recruit extra staff to help cover the rush during busy periods.

AXA, as one of the UK’s largest insurers of SMEs, understands that business circumstances change at busy times of year and will automatically increase by 25 per cent the level of stock cover in the run up to Christmas. Other insurers will also offer increases but businesses are advised to check their insurance will cover them fully if they are expecting to hold additional stock.

And while a lack of cover for stock could leave businesses out of pocket if they made a claim, they should also be aware that if they recruit employees to help out with the Christmas rush they may well need to take out some Employer Liability insurance to avoid breaking the law. EL cover is a legal requirement for employers even if staff are recruited on a temporary basis. For businesses with EL already in place, they should still inform their insurer of any additional recruits as the level of cover required may need to be amended to accommodate more staff. If EL is not in place businesses can face a fine of up to £2,500 per day.

Darrell Sansom, managing director of AXA Business Insurance, says: “Christmas is a very busy time for many businesses and sorting out their insurance is all too easy to forget. But the consequences of not having the right cover in place could cause a lot of financial damage – certainly much more than any extra takings earned in the festive season.”

Tips from AXA for reducing risk in the run up to Christmas

Avoid keeping large amounts of cash on the premises – get takings to the bank or into a safe as regularly as possible and if possible split it between two or three people. And be aware of how much money your insurance policy will cover you for while on site, off site and during transit
Keep cash tills out of sight wherever possible – they are a magnet for thieves
Secure your premises thoroughly – window and door locks should be insurance approved. And an alarm will be a deterrent to would-be thieves
If you can, join forces with other local businesses to keep a look out for any suspicious behaviour. And get to know your local police officers
Take the time to check up on any additional staff you take on – get proper references and interview them properly
And reduce the risk of employee accidents by making sure your premises are safe for additional staff to work in
Finally, make sure you have the correct insurance in place to help out should the worst happen

0 33

AXA, one of the UK’s largest insurance companies, warns that while the buy-to-let market thrives, hundreds of thousands of landlords are leaving themselves and their tenants exposed through lack of protection and little financial back up should the worst happen.

Data from AXA Business Insurance suggests that among the total population of residential landlords in the UK around one in four have the wrong or no insurance and that around three quarters of these have bought regular household insurance instead of a commercial policy, leaving themselves vulnerable to having any claims turned down.

AXA believes that a large percentage of those with the wrong insurance are “accidental landlords” – those who did not originally buy with the intention of renting out their property, or who are forced to continue renting out because they cannot sell at present.

Research among a sample** of those who had bought the wrong insurance revealed that one in five had been previously living at the address themselves and simply renewed the existing home insurance cover when they moved out, believing it to be adequate.

Meanwhile, 43 per cent were unaware of the existence of landlord cover, 28 per cent thought landlord and residential cover were the same and 11 per cent thought the landlord option was too expensive so bought a residential policy instead.

Nearly three quarters of these landlords (73 per cent) have less than £1,000 set aside for emergencies while 18 per cent have nothing saved, leaving them financially exposed should their insurer turn a claim down because the wrong insurance is in place. One in twenty are likely to claim in any given year.

But it seems that it’s not just the insurance that is being neglected. The research also exposed other areas where landlords are leaving themselves and their tenants unprotected:

only half (53 per cent) have a tenancy agreement
27 per cent have a current inventory
54 per cent have a deposit (less than half of which are kept in a protected scheme)

Darrell Sansom, managing director at AXA Business Insurance says: “While many of these people may well have never intended to become landlords and possibly it is something they would rather not have to think about, the consequences of not sorting out some of the basic admin and putting some core protection in place could make it a much bigger headache for them than it already is.

“As an industry, insurers need to take some responsibility to ensure that the right questions are asked when customers are buying insurance. And consumers need to be made aware of the pitfalls of buying the wrong cover.

“Someone else living in your property can present a very different insurance risk than you living there yourself – insurance products are designed and priced to match these risks so it’s important you get the right one.”

The phenomenon of the “accidental landlord” market has grown rapidly over recent years as the economy has depressed the housing market. AXA believes that around 70% of residential landlords rent just one property and that up to a third of these are “accidental landlords” who can’t sell their property or who “inherited” rather than planned the ownership of the property.

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The financial results reflect a half year characterised by the absence of any major catastrophes. But Lloyd’s Chairman and CEO both warned that – midway through the Atlantic windstorm season – there was still potential for this to change before the year is out.

Lloyd’s Chairman, John Nelson, said that apart from the lack of major catastrophe claims, the most notable feature of the 2013 half year results is the fall in investment income returns from 1.2% to 0.5%.

“All large investors – including major insurers – have found it hard to secure meaningful returns in the continuing low interest rate environment,” he said. “Yields at longer maturities have begun to rise in anticipation of tighter monetary policy, but short-term interest rates are likely to remain very low in the near term.”

Chief Executive, Richard Ward, described Lloyd’s as being in “robust financial health”, thanks in part to the market’s central assets: “The strength of central assets enabled the Society to repurchase some £180m of our subordinated debt in May 2013.

“This will bring financial benefit from reduced interest payments in future years without any significant impact on the excellent security we offer.”

Dr Ward, who in December will step down as Chief Executive of Lloyd’s, took the opportunity to thank his colleagues for their support and praised the Lloyd’s market for its diligence in establishing principles of underwriting discipline.

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All twelve signs of the zodiac have certain traits and quirks associated with them and travel Insurance specialist, Columbus Direct, have found that star signs have strong correlations with almost all areas of travel insurance claims.

Data analysts at Columbus Direct found that Gemini, Cancer and Pisces are the three signs most likely to make a claim on their travel insurance. Meanwhile, the usually adventurous Sagittarius made the lowest amount of claims of any sign in the zodiac.

Air signs, Gemini, Libra and Aquarius made the most claims for travel delay. Of these, Aquarians topped the bill, making 92% more claims for delay than their Cancerian cousins, and 28% more than the overall average.

Cancerians make up the largest proportion of medical claims with 10.6% more claims than fellow water sign, Pisces, which came in second place. Perhaps the sensitive crustaceans – said to be plagued by stomach ailments – suffer from a few travel tummy troubles of their own while abroad?

Librans make the most claims for lost passports, some two-thirds above average. Known for being indecisive, Librans also made the most claims for missed departure. Maybe they just couldn’t make up their mind on the best way to get to the airport?

Gemini claim the highest amount of all signs for loss of baggage and money. The average Gemini claims for 27% more baggage than most claimants. Those born under the constellation of the twins are said to have split personalities, so perhaps they’re subconsciously packing for two?

Aries – the ram – believed to be adventurous, courageous and determined. Could this be why Arians made the fewest claims of all 12 signs for cancellation of a holiday? Cautious Scorpios on the other hand, are the most likely to cancel their trip.

Greg Lawson, Head of Retail at Columbus Direct, commented: “Our research has found an interesting connection between claims and star signs, noting unexpected correlations between signs of the zodiac and reasons for making a travel insurance claim. Whilst astrology is often taken with a pinch of salt, Columbus recommend everyone check they have adequate travel insurance in place, whichever sign of the zodiac they were born under, to ensure they are covered whatever their travel destiny holds.
“At Columbus, we want people to enjoy their holiday, whether that means sitting on a beach or studying the stars, but we do urge travellers to know what they are covered for, rather than leaving their fate to be decided by the celestial bodies.”

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Bluefin Insurance has appointed Jamie Eaton as Affinity Development Director at Bluefin’s London headquarters with immediate effect.

Reporting to Mike Owen, the Head of Bluefin Solutions, Jamie will be responsible for the growth of existing schemes and developing affinity strategy. In addition to supporting organic growth and development, Jamie will be responsible for growing the overall business and winning new affinity and commercial partners across personal and commercial lines for Bluefin.

He joins from Thistle Insurance Services, part of the JLT group, where he held the position of Affinity Sales Director. Prior to this Jamie was the Affinity and Partnerships Director at Towergate and brings eight years industry experience to the role.

Commenting on his appointment Jamie said: “I am delighted to have joined Bluefin at such an exciting time. The opportunities remain strong in the UK affinity market and Bluefin are excellently placed to capitalise on this, both with their existing facilities and with new opportunities.”

Mike Owen, Head of Bluefin Solutions said: “The area of scheme and affinity partnerships is an important one for Bluefin and Jamie brings proven affinity experience and expertise to the role of development director. These complement the talents of the existing team and support the effort and overall ambition of building the proposition for new and existing partners.”

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SSP today announced that Legal & General has chosen to implement SSP Select Connect in its general insurance business to help drive further improvements in efficiency and customer service.

Following a successful proof of concept, Legal & General will integrate SSP Select Connect with its existing Insure/90 policy administration system, enabling it to extend its capabilities and streamline business processes.

Legal & General chose SSP after a rigorous selection process that highlighted the capabilities of the SSP Select Connect software, as well as the knowledge and experience of the SSP team.

Rob Regan, COO of Legal & General’s general insurance business, said: “Not only did the proof of concept prove that SSP Select Connect was the right technology, it also proved SSP had the right team in place to deliver a solution that will allow us to achieve our business objectives. During the process it was clear that SSP’s experience across the industry and their detailed operational-level knowledge of Insure/90 would help increase the pace of our innovation.

“To continue to improve the experience we deliver to our customers and to offer quality, value-for-money products across all our channels, we need to ensure we have the right technology and relationships in place. Throughout the entire process, the SSP team worked closely with our business and IT teams to ensure all our critical success factors were met. I look forward to working with SSP over the coming months to further develop our capabilities.”

Kevin Gaut, Chief Technology Officer of SSP’s insurer division, said: “With mobile adoption and consumer expectations rising and the ease of comparison creating an unprecedented level of price transparency, delivering excellent customer service and driving down costs are key priorities for insurers. To achieve this, insurers need to continue to invest to enhance and modernise their core systems to ensure they have the flexibility they need to respond to market demands faster than ever before.

“We are delighted to be working with Legal & General on this project and supporting its future development. Implementing SSP Select Connect will help Legal & General meet its customers’ changing needs via a range of distribution channels, while minimising disruption and risk, improving operational efficiency and controlling costs.”

A component of the SSP Select Insurance suite, SSP Select Connect is a development toolkit specifically designed to enable insurers to deliver on-demand customer self-service via the internet, improve processes and provide a seamless upgrade path to a new platform.

Unlike other web service products, SSP Select Connect has been built from the ground up by SSP’s Insure/90 experts. It is the only tool that provides a library of Insure/90 specific customisable service templates for a wide range of business processes and inquiries including quotation, quote conversion, new business, cancellation, renewal and many more, allowing rapid delivery of lower maintenance web services.

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Lower car insurance rates, a new spending watchdog and tighter rules on tanning beds will be the Liberal government’s priorities for the fall session of the legislature that starts Monday, but there also will be more debate about cancelled gas plants.

“We’re going to try to come out of the gate running, and the first thing we’re going to have is the Financial Accountability Officer legislation,” said government house leader John Milloy.

Premier Kathleen Wynne made a deal with the New Democrats last spring to get the minority Liberal government’s budget passed, and agreed to mandate a 15 per cent cut in auto insurance premiums and appoint an independent Financial Accountability Officer to review government expenditures before the money is spent.

“The Liberals claimed in their budget that they were going to get auto insurance rates down, based on our pressure and our demands,” said NDP Leader Andrea Horwath.

“It’ll be up to them to deliver, and part of our job is to make sure that that actually happens, and we’ll certainly be putting the pressure on the government to follow through on their promises.”

Horwath points out that banning teens from using tanning beds, which the Liberals say is a priority for the fall, was something the NDP has requested for five years.

The Progressive Conservatives served notice they will put forth a second contempt motion Monday related to the Liberals’ decisions to cancel gas plants in Oakville and Mississauga, at a cost of at least $585 million.

Dalton McGuinty blamed last year’s bitter contempt debate over the government’s refusal to release documents on the gas plants, which ground all other business to a halt, for his decision to prorogue the legislature and resign as premier.

PC house leader Jim Wilson wants another debate on what he says were attempts by senior Liberals in McGuinty’s office to influence Speaker Dave Levac after his preliminary finding of contempt against the Liberal government over the documents.

“It doesn’t matter whether he was influenced or not influenced in his decison to find a prima facie case of contempt against the energy minister, it’s the attempt to influence,” said Wilson.

“It’s the equalivalent of calling a judge, and if you called a judge in the middle of the case you could very well be thrown in jail.”

Wilson also predicts the Liberals may try to trigger a fall election, even though Wynne has said she intends to govern and wants to work with the opposition parties.

“I think they may (force an election) against the backdrop of Wynne needs her own mandate, and she’ll go out and say ‘obviously Parliament is not working’ because the Liberals are doing everything they can to make sure it doesn’t work,” he said.

“They’re going to make sure this place is in paralysis and try and blame others.”

Milloy flatly rejected Wilson’s claims, and said it’s the Tories who have been engaging in needless debates and preventing any bills from being passed.

“The premier has been very clear she wants to govern and her priority right now is jobs and the economy, and because of the slowness of the legislature you’ll see initiatives outside of the legislature itself,” said Milloy.

“She’s not looking for an election. She’s been clear on that.”

There will also be a push to change the rules for the accommodation allowance for members of the legislature who live more than 50 kilometres away from Queen’s Park, after word Toronto-area Tory Peter Shurman billed the maximum $20,719 last year for a second residence in Niagara-on-the-Lake.

“It seems to me that Mr. Shurman is pretty much the only person that’s decided to find a way to fund a retirement home on the taxpayers’ dime,” said Horwath.

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Experts at Thatcham Research – the motor insurers’ automotive research facility, believe that multiple vehicle accidents such as the pile-up on the Isle of Sheppey crossing yesterday could be mitigated or avoided altogether with the widespread use of new automatic braking technologies.

“Our thoughts go out to all those injured or traumatised by this terrible crash,” says Peter Shaw, chief executive of Thatcham Research. “We know all too well the effects of such collisions, and ultimately, it is the aim of all those in the insurance and vehicle design sectors to make death or injury on the roads a thing of the past. In recent years great strides have been made by vehicle manufacturers in making stronger, safer cars.”

Thatcham has been researching and testing Autonomous Emergency Braking (AEB) systems on behalf of insurers for the last 3 years and has already undertaken an in-depth study of crashes and their causation factors.

A number of major vehicle manufacturers are already providing AEB technologies on their vehicles and such is their effectiveness, as shown in the Thatcham test, that international safety body Euro NCAP will incorporate the test as part of their overall vehicle safety standard in 2014, whilst UK insurers are already offering favourable insurance groupings on vehicles fitted with AEB as standard.

“The evidence from our testing is undeniable and combined with a growing body of real world research and evidence we firmly believe that AEB and other ADAS (Advanced Driver Assist Systems) have a critical role to play in avoiding both common low-speed shunts that can cause injuries such as whiplash, and mitigating some of the horrendous injuries and fatalities that we see as result of higher speed pile-ups,” says Shaw.

“Currently, some 20% of new cars in the UK have an AEB system available and if that rate of development continues we would hope that, by 2030, multiple-vehicle collisions could be history.”

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Aon Benfield today releases its 2013 Insurance Risk Study, which provides a comprehensive review of insurers’ premium growth, profitability and loss ratios, as well as other key industry metrics.

The Study presents comprehensive profitability statistics by country for the top 50 property-casualty markets globally, as well as demographic, social and economic data crucial in setting a profitable growth strategy. It reveals that 32 of the top 50 markets have a five year average combined ratio under 100%, but only 10 markets are under 90%. Overall the EMEA region has the lowest five year combined ratio, at 98%, followed by the Americas at 100% and APAC at 103%.

The Study links pure profitability metrics to other factors, such as premium growth, economic growth and political risk, in order to rank the Insurance Opportunity by country. Highest opportunity countries include Singapore, Indonesia, Nigeria, Chile and Norway. It also includes an in-depth review of the insurance regulation, demographics and market opportunities in six countries, illustrating Aon Benfield’s unique approach to screening countries for appropriate fit within client growth geographies.

Now in its eighth edition, the Insurance Risk Study continues to provide detailed underwriting risk volatility benchmarks that are a valuable resource to chief risk officers, actuaries and other economic capital modeling professionals.

The parameters in the Study increase the transparency and accuracy of underwriting risk modelling. Transparent and dependable modelling is critical to attract a broad and competitive capital base. As a result of this increased transparency, the Study is bullish on the future potential for insurance-linked securities to expand into non-catastrophe lines of business.

Risk benchmarks are provided for 49 countries and key business lines, representing more than 90% of global insurance premium. The Study reports that over USD3.5 trillion of capital is dedicated to insurance globally, with USD1.2 trillion supporting property casualty lines, USD 1.8 trillion life & health and USD0.5 trillion reinsurance. Global capital increased 7 percent year on year.

The Study also reveals that within the USD1.5 trillion of global property casualty premium, motor accounts for 45 percent, and was also the fastest growing component, increasing 7.3 percent. Property accounted for 32 percent of premium and grew at nearly 6 percent, while liability dropped to 23 percent of the total premium with virtually no growth year on year.

The Study reveals that consistent out-performance in underwriting results is achievable – its data show that nearly two thirds of top quartile companies in terms of underwriting results remain at the top after one year, and that this out-performance generally persists over a much longer period.

Stephen Mildenhall, Global CEO of Analytics for Aon, said: “Our results show that underwriting excellence is possible and sustainable over the longer term, but that it requires the support of the best underwriting and pricing tools, used in a disciplined and effective manner. The Insurance Risk Study is based on many years of modeling innovation and actuarial research work from Aon Benfield’s 450-strong Analytics team, and we hope that this edition will again prove to be a valuable resource for our clients, and the insurance and reinsurance industries as a whole.”

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Automobile insurance for liability and full coverage can change in price depending on the insurer providing quotes. The Auto Pros USA company has now introduced liability car insurance discounts from its new tool online.

This tool is currently providing some of the lowest rates possible by national, local or regional companies in the United States. Data is currently offered through the system direct from brokers and other sources used to provide the lowered rates for vehicle owners.

“The automotive customers currently using our website can now benefit from obtaining a lower price quote for car insurance regardless of the type of vehicle that is owned,” a source from the Auto Pros USA company said.

Direct access to this tool is provided through the simple input of a zip code where the vehicle is planned to be used in North America. This provides an easy way to obtain the national average quotes that are paid by other car owners in this geographic location.

“The decision to not accept personal data from consumers is our way of helping drivers to remain private when seeking insurance rates online,” the source added.

One of the many benefits of using this new liability insurance rates finder tool online is the absence of private information required for use. No personal information is requested or implied to be submitted to gain entry to the low rates database.

The automobile insurance rates that can be offered to include full coverage quotes if requested by consumers when accessing the database online. This database is in combination with the rates for warranty plans that were introduced last month at http://autoprosusa.com/auto-warranty online.