Wednesday, December 8, 2021
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Sofia Ashmore

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Congratulations – it’s a….mortgage?! New mums add savings and insurance to their shopping list
• Almost two thirds (63%) of new mums* have taken out at least one financial product in the last year
• In the last 12 months, compared to the overall population, new mums were:
➢ five times more likely to have taken out income protection
➢ three times more likely to have started a new mortgage
➢ three times more likely to have taken out life assurance
➢ twice as likely to have opened a credit card.

New research from GfK and Emma’s Diary reveals that new mums are not just shopping for nappies, pushchairs and car seats, but also for financial products such as insurance, savings and mortgages.

Nick Watts, Head of Data and Partnerships at Emma’s Diary, a resource for expectant and new mums, said: “Having a baby is a life-changing event that triggers a review of lifestyle choices, particularly for first time parents. This research shows how new mothers are encouraged to plan their financial future and look for economic security for their arrival.”

GfK’s Financial Research Survey, which surveys 60,000 consumers a year, showed that new mums review their finances, change their financial habits and enter new relationships with financial services providers. Products top of the shopping list in the 12 months to July 2013 include health insurance (23.3%), savings, cash ISAs and NS&I (19.5%), credit cards (15.2%) and mortgages (10.2%).

Nick Watkins, Managing Director of GfK’s Financial Services team, says: “New mums make up 2% of the population, yet they are over-represented as buyers of a range of financial services as they look for financial security for their new and expanding family. It’s a perfect time for providers to help offer the security and future planning they seek – if they can approach them with relevant and appealing products.”

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QDOS Rescue Services chooses Aria Assistance for breakdown cover

QDOS Rescue Services, a trading style of QDOS Insurance Services Ltd, found at, is partnering with Aria Insurance Services to add a superior motor breakdown service to its offering.

Mark Reynolds, QDOS Insurance Director, commented: “Our core strategy is to provide insurance products that offer the highest level of cover and service to the customer so we required a partner that we could trust to represent our brand.

“We considered the whole market but Aria Assistance, with its customer service focus, superior products, trusted nationwide network of vetted vehicle recovery contractors and 24-hour customer contact centre, stood out as our partner of choice. The agreement firmly supports the overall QDOS strategy of keeping customers for life through really caring about your customers’ needs.”

QDOS Insurance will white label Aria Assistance motor breakdown services through its motor rescue webpage, driving traffic to the site using the skills of its sister company QDOS Digital Media as well as using aggregators such as Know Your Money, Money Supermarket and Compare the Market.

Typical services include roadside fix or recovery, cover at home, overnight emergency accommodation and a replacement vehicle should one be required.

“Aria Assistance draws on four decades of experience and offers pricing that, coupled with our efficiencies, allows our customers to save money,” continued Reynolds. “It is providing a fully functional flexible product, which has optional extras such as multi-vehicle, European and personal cover, where the driver is insured rather than the vehicle.”

QDOS Insurance is the latest in a string of strategic business partnerships Aria Insurance Solutions has entered into across its many service lines over the last few months.

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Millions of British motorists are taking to the roads in France without understanding some of the most basic road rules. These include not knowing which side of the road to drive on and what prevalent road signs mean, reveals a new study from Churchill Car Insurance.

More than a third (34 per cent) of UK motorists have driven in France at least once, equivalent to around 12.8 million people. But 15 per cent of these drivers didn’t know or were unsure about which side of the road to drive on in France and nine per cent weren’t aware that French road signs display speed limits in kilometres.

With 14 per cent of motorists planning to drive in France in the coming 12 months, the research raises concerns that many drivers may unknowingly break the law. When questioned, 65 per cent of those who have driven in France were not aware that using a hands-free mobile phone whilst driving is illegal. A further 49 per cent did not know that using speed camera alerts on a sat nav is against the law, and 43 per cent were unaware that children under 10 must travel in the backseat of a car.

The study also asked British motorists who have driven in France to identify five common road signs and found that just 35 per cent understood the meaning of all five correctly. The sign which indicates drivers have priority over other motorists joining the road was misunderstood by 67 per cent of respondents and almost a third (31 per cent) failed to identify the National Speed Limit sign, despite it being the same sign as in the UK.

Despite having driven in France, a significant proportion of British motorists are also unclear about the local speed limits. British motorists underestimated the speed limit on French motorways by an average 30km/h, believing the speed limit to be around 100km/h rather than the 130km/h limit. And just a third (32 per cent) of British motorists who have driven in France were aware of the 50 km/h speed limit in urban areas, which comes into effect on the entrance to French towns but isn’t always signposted.

When asked about which items were compulsory to carry in the car when driving in France, only 35 per cent identified all of the items correctly. Just 47 per cent knew that carrying a breathalyser was compulsory, 61 per cent were aware that a yellow florescent jacket was compulsory and 85 per cent rightly indicated that drivers must carry a red warning triangle at all times.

Neil Ingram, product manager at Churchill Car Insurance, said, “There are significant differences between the driving laws in France and the UK. Millions of British drivers are taking to the roads in France without a clear understanding of these variations and they could be putting themselves in real danger.”

“Our advice to those planning to drive in France is to do their homework. Make sure you know the rules of the road, create a checklist of items to purchase in advance and ensure your insurance policy covers driving abroad, as drivers are more at risk of an accident if they are unsure of the local road signs and rules. Many policies provide third party cover for driving abroad, but motorists should consider taking out comprehensive cover for the length of their trip for extra peace of mind.”

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According to new research by Timetric, increased adoption of technology is apparent in life insurance underwriting. This has been caused by the need to improve customer service, reduce operating costs, and reduce losses from false claims or misrepresentations.

Three key technological developments have had a substantial impact on life insurance underwriting: automation, social media and big data. Life insurers have been using technology to determine premium rates through risk assessment and to process claims.

Automation improving customer service
Automation in life insurance involves the use of information technology to improve customer satisfaction through quick settlement of claims. It is being employed to assess the eligibility of a customer to receive their service where simple criteria templates will suffice, to enable the quick processing of numerous applications.

Social media to detect possible frauds
Social media networks such as Facebook and blogs are used by life insurers to enhance their brand image and market their products. Today, Social media is often used in underwriting processes. Life insurers have been following consumers on social networks to assess the risks that they represent, and to detect possible frauds or misrepresentations in claims made to avoid losses due to incorrect risk assessment and false claims.

Big data technology to speed up application processes
Big data technology and advances in the field of data mining are being used by life insurers to detect fraud patterns. Predictive modelling, an important big data tool, is often used in risk assessment by factoring in customers’ biomedical or lifestyle characteristics. It incorporates several variables into a statistical model and uses analytics to forecast mortality. This will reduce expenses incurred in underwriting and speed up application processes.
The Timetric report: ‘2020 Foresight: Trends in Life Insurance Underwriting’ was published in August 2013

Fitch Ratings’ outlook for global reinsurance sector ratings remains stable, with the agency expecting to affirm the majority of its current reinsurance ratings in 2014. Supporting factors include capital strength and continued profitability.

In the absence of a major catastrophe, a persistent, low-yielding investment environment and softening (falling) prices are the key factors that could lead to a deterioration of the sector’s credit profile.

“The investment environment is likely to provide the greatest challenge to the reinsurance sector in 2014,” says Martyn Street, co-head of Reinsurance at Fitch. “We expect continued low interest rates, which will make it more challenging for reinsurers to achieve similar 2014 profitability to that forecast for 2013.”

Fitch expects broader softening of prices at the key 1 January 2014 renewal and beyond, assuming no significant loss events take place, due to surplus underwriting capacity. While premium growth is likely to continue into 2014, in the absence of a major loss event, prices are expected to fall.

“There is likely to be a disparity in overall pricing movements, but soft market conditions are likely to broaden to more product classes,” says Brian Schneider, co-head of Reinsurance at Fitch. “While Fitch expects prices to remain adequate across major classes, underwriting discipline will be tested. We also expect continued competition between traditional and alternative reinsurance.”

Fitch expects reserves to develop favourably overall, but the level of surplus is expected to decline somewhat, adding pressure to run-rate profitability.

In order to trigger a sector outlook revision from stable to negative, a single loss event of USD60bn, coupled with a sudden spike in interest rates of 300bp or more and an inability for reinsurers to replenish lost capital would be necessary. This would likely result in negative rating actions. Fitch considers such a combination to be rare.

More than 94% of the reinsurers rated by Fitch have a Stable Outlook, with the remainder having a Positive Outlook. Fitch rates more than 65 reinsurers globally. The stable outlook on the reinsurance industry means that Fitch expects to affirm the majority of reinsurers’ ratings over the next 12-24 months.

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According to a new report by Timetric, the market for cyber liability insurance is at an early stage of development with a large opportunity for expansion.

Companies collect, manage and store data electronically, social media interaction has increased and portable computing devices are growing in popularity. These growing trends increase exposure to cyber threats such as hacking, extortion, and data leaks. The loss of business due to downtime and loss of functionality is another serious cyber threat to businesses. According to a new report by Timetric, the market for cyber liability insurance remains largely untapped with a strong opportunity for growth.

Companies losing millions due to cyber threats such as data breaches
Sony experienced a hack in 2011 that leaked the personal information of 77 million PlayStation Network users. LinkedIn suffered a leak of over 6 million passwords, and data breaches at the Universities of Nebraska and North Carolina saw thousands of personal records exposed. Global Payments confirmed a data breach had exposed details of up to 1.5 million MasterCard and Visa payments. Each of these cyber security breaches resulted in multi-million dollar costs for investigation, fines and legal settlements. These costs flag the negative impact a data breach can have on company finances and reputation.

The cost of cyber liabilities
A 2011 UK government report estimated that cyber crime costs the UK as much as GBP27 billion a year. GBP21 billion of this is estimated as costs to businesses. Of this GBP9.2 billion comes from theft of intellectual property, GBP7.6 billion for industrial espionage, GBP2.2 billion for extortion, GBP1.3 billion for online theft and GBP1 billion for loss or theft of customer data.

Businesses both small and large feel the pain
The Information Security Breaches Survey for 2013 calculated that in the aftermath of its most serious data breach, damage to reputation represents the largest cost to a large firm, followed by response costs and business disruption. For smaller businesses the cost of business disruption is, on average, eight times higher than any other resulting cost.

Untapped potential of cyber liability insurance
As cyber liability insurance represents just 0.01% of the UK’s non-life insurance market, there is large scope for expansion. Cyber risk is not industry-specific; it spans financial services, healthcare, retail, charities, recruitment, e-commerce, legal services and any business using Information and Communications Technology (ICT).

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People around the world say they’re acutely aware of the risks they may face in the future, and are ready to shoulder the financial burden personally. This is a key result from a landmark survey commissioned by Swiss Re on the occasion of its 150 years anniversary. At the same time, respondents of the survey want their political leaders to do more to tackle a riskier world ahead.

Key findings include:
§ 70% of respondents are prepared to take personal responsibility for their own retirement costs
§ 84% think that climate change will be responsible for more natural disasters in the future
§ Nearly 8 in10 fear damage from an earthquake, flood or other natural disaster within the next 20 years
§ 75% would use renewable energy if it were made available
§ 91% want governments to do more to promote energy efficiency
§ Hunger is a major concern, not just in the developing world

The survey was commissioned by Swiss Re on the occasion of its 150 year anniversary and conducted by Gallup, the consulting, polling and research organisation. Gallup spoke with nearly 22 000 citizens across 19 markets on five continents, aged 15 and above. The survey was carried out in April and May 2013. Under the motto “Open minds – connecting generations”, Swiss Re aims to foster a dialogue about risks and how society and generations are to tackle them in the future.

People were asked what concerns them most, including ageing, climate change, natural disasters, energy and food supplies. Almost everyone is worried about prospects for the economy. Concerns about global warming and natural disasters are also widespread.

Most respondents say they are well aware of the risks they may face in future, and are willing to take action to address them – even if this is going to hit their own pocket. But many also say that government policy does not fully address the risks faced today and by future generations.

Swiss Re’s Group Chief Risk Officer David Cole urges: “These findings show that individuals are willing to take as much responsibility as their leaders. The findings are a call for better co-operation between government and the private sector. It’s vital to prepare systematically for the future and make societies more resilient. That’s where Swiss Re also plays a key role with its risk expertise.”

Making ends meet in retirement and covering the sickness bill
§ The survey results show that, all over the world, self-reliance is seen as a key to coping with the risks of the future
§ More would prefer to pay into a non-state pension plan to make ends meet during retirement (29%), retire later (19%) or cut back on spending once retired (22%) than rely on the state (13%)
§ On funding long-term care for elderly relatives, roughly a third to a half across all markets and age groups say they would take out insurance to help cover the cost
§ But large numbers, on average 43%, expect the government still to pay for universal healthcare; a further 35% say healthcare for the poor should be publicly funded

Climate change worries
§ A majority of survey respondents feel threatened by the risk climate change poses to their community. 58% think that climate change will in future contribute to natural disasters ‘to a great extent’ or ‘to some extent’ and 26% ‘to a small extent’.
§ 77% fear being hit by a natural disaster in the next two decades – and many believe that the state would leave them with the bill for any damages
§ But only a quarter (27%) thinks their government’s disaster preparedness is ‘bad’ or ‘very bad’

Money a limiting factor for green energy
§ 9 in 10 people (91%) want to see governments doing more to ensure efficient energy use
§ 3 in 4 people would use renewable energy if it were made available, but nearly half of them (48%) say they can’t afford to pay more

Food waste and prices are the main culprits in food security
§ 90% think that many around the world do not have access to enough food and an overwhelming majority (80%) think that more food needs to be produced to feed everybody
§ 81% of respondents say that the main cause of food shortages is food waste
§ 66% think that shortages in their country are due to high prices suggesting that the public and private sectors need to do more to make food available to all

David Cole adds: “One striking and encouraging outcome of this survey is the broad agreement between young and old – both on how they perceive risks and how societies can best address the risks. This alliance between the generations is exactly what we need to create the inclusive, resilient communities of tomorrow.”

On-line survey results and discussion
Swiss Re aims to generate a dialogue about the biggest risks people and societies face. Visit to select and view the survey results in many different formats. Share results on and other online discussion platforms.

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Telematics and use of smart phone technology among the top patent trends
More than 400 international insurance-related patents were filed last year, in a sign that the insurance sector is focusing on innovation in a bid to add value to its product offerings and get ahead of the competition, says RPC, the City law firm.

Research by RPC reveals that there were 435 international insurance-related patents filed during 20121 for innovations as diverse as healthcare insurance which allows for the use of stem cells in future treatments and methods for valuing insurance cover for hydrocarbon reserves.

RPC says that over the past 10 years2, 5,072 international insurance-related patents were filed. Some of the most frequent filers include major insurers such as the Hartford Fire Insurance Company (part of the Fortune 500 Hartford Group), and Mitsui Sumitomo Insurance Co Ltd.

Paul Joseph, Partner at RPC comments, “These figures show that the insurance sector is a hotbed of innovation right now, with insurers and brokers searching for new ways to differentiate their products and offer value-added services.
“It’s often forgotten just how much research and product development takes place within financial services and in a competitive marketplace protecting the Intellectual Property that is created is more important than ever.
“Intellectual property is often described as a battleground, as insurers seek to steal a march on their competitors.
“It’s an exciting time for the sector but also a challenging one. Firms are going to have to continue to think creatively to make sure they don’t get left behind.”

Telematics and use of mobile devices among the top patent trends
RPC says that insurers are not just looking for new types of insurance products but ways to make claims handling more efficient, improve the identification of fraud and sharpen risk analyses and liability predictions in order to make their business models as stream-lined and effective as possible.

RPC adds that patent filings can highlight developing trends within the insurance market. For example, last year there were 12 patent filings related to telematics, where data on driver behaviour is monitored in order to create risk-based products in the motor insurance sector.

There were also 15 filings relating to making more use of mobile devices in the insurance market – ranging from making it easier to get quotes on the go, to managing information across multiple devices, for example connecting data from mobile devices used by doctors and patients.

Paul Joseph adds, “Insurance companies are looking to improve their profitability by capitalising on technologies that are coming into the marketplace and finding ways of creating new products that are both desirable and accessible to customers.
“Through innovations like telematics, which is a huge area of research, and also by maximising the opportunities offered by the prevalence of mobile devices, insurers can unlock huge business potential, so these are certainly trends to watch over the next few years.”

1 Source: World Intellectual Property Organization
2 From 01/01/2003 – 31/12/2012
3 Including filings made by Discovery Holdings CEO, Adrian Gore

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Due to the increased demand for the blended range percentage flows into the passive range were down slightly at 50%, from 55% in 2012 while the active range also saw a slight drop from 32% in 2012 to 27% in the first six months of 2013.

Hans Georgeson, managing director, Architas, says: “During 2012 we saw a rise in flows into our passive fund range, which suggested cost was a key factor. These latest figures suggest that charges remain important for advisers but they still recognise the potential benefit for clients of active management.

“The blended range combines passive and active funds in one, offering the best of both worlds across asset class, sector and geography. All our ranges utilise the same asset allocation model but the active and blended ranges can take tactical bets within the target volatility bands where the managers see the opportunity to actively invest for growth. The blended range uses both active and passive instruments to provide value-for-money exposure to market beta and potential outperformance through alpha.

“However, advisers still clearly value the full active management approach we provide with over one quarter (27%) of gross sales going into this range of risk rated funds during the first six months of 2013. Through the active decisions taken by the investment team the active range has consistently added more value to client holdings, net of fees, than both the blended and passive ranges.”

Since its launch four years ago, Architas has built a reputation for delivering simple, transparent, RDR-ready investments. Its core proposition consists of a range of risk-profiled funds. The proposition is popular thanks to its fit with RDR requirements – in particular, relating to suitability – but also due to its focus on the end-to-end investment process.

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On a cold February morning in 1688, merchants flicking through the London Gazette while relaxing in one of the numerous coffee shops around the City would have noticed a familiar name – Lloyd’s.

An article in the respected newspaper declared a reward for a stolen horse and encouraged anyone with information to contact Edward Lloyd at his popular coffee shop on Tower Street. It was the first mention of Lloyd’s and an early sign of insurance, or at least reward.

At this time, there were more than 80 coffee houses within the City walls; each a centre for entrepreneurs and merchants with a specialist interest to offer. Despite the original equine reference, what Lloyd’s coffee house specialised in was information about shipping.

A driven man, Lloyd made sure he provided intelligence second to none. But even he couldn’t have known that 325 years later, his name would have become an internationally recognised brand – one synonymous with pioneering insurance products, financial stability and underwriting expertise.

This year, Lloyd’s marks its 325th anniversary and to celebrate we’ve published host of online material exploring Lloyd’s fascinating legacy. The world has changed enormously since the first insurance policies were written but Lloyd’s has continued to adapt, innovate and evolve.

From sea vessels to spaceships, body parts to natural catastrophes, join us as we take a journey through Lloyd’s extraordinary history:

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Following a review of Germany-Based Wuerttembergische Gemeinde-Versicherung aG (WGV aG) and its core subsidiary WGV – Versicherung AG (WGV aG) under our revised insurance criteria, we are affirming our public information ‘Api’ ratings on the companies.
The ratings on WGV aG reflect our view of the company’s satisfactory business risk profile and strong financial risk profile.
The ratings on WGV AG reflect the subsidiary’s core status to its parent, WGV aG.

Standard & Poor’s Ratings Services’ said today that it has affirmed its unsolicited public information (pi) insurer financial strength and counterparty credit ratings on Germany-based property casualty (P/C) insurer Wuerttembergische Gemeinde-Versicherung aG (WGV aG) and its core subsidiary WGV – Versicherung AG (WGV AG) at ‘Api’.

The ratings predominantly reflect our view of WGV aG’s satisfactory business risk profile and strong financial risk profile. We base our assessment of WGV aG’s business risk profile on our opinion of its low industry and country risk and adequate competitive position. As regards its financial risk profile, we factor in our view of its strong capital and earnings, intermediate risk position, and adequate financial flexibility. We combine these factors to derive an ‘a-‘ anchor for WGV aG. The ratings are ‘Api’, as our public information ratings generally do not bear plus or minus modifiers.

The ratings on WGV AG reflect our view of the company’s core status to its parent WGV aG, under our criteria. The core status reflects WGV AG’s importance to the WGV Group, contributing about 45% in premiums written. We view WGV AG as an integral part of the group’s strategy, as it represents a well-established expansion from the group’s roots as a Wuerttemberg-focused public sector business. WGV AG, in line with its parent, writes mainly primary P/C insurance, with the main line of business being motor (2012: 63%).

WGV aG is a German P/C mutual insurer and the parent of the midsize WGV Group, which includes WGV AG and WGV-Lebensversicherung AG (not rated). The WGV group generated €561.5 million gross premiums written (GPW) in 2012–split 92% P/C and 8% life business–after €521.0 million in 2011. WGV aG focuses on providing P/C insurance protection to towns, local governments, public law bodies, and individuals employed in the public sector in the Wuerttemberg area. Meanwhile, WGV AG offers P/C insurance on a direct basis, predominantly motor insurance to private customers outside of Wuerttemberg.

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Covéa Insurance today welcomed a group of GCSE and A-Level school leavers to an Open Day at their Halifax town centre offices, to promote their 2013 Apprenticeship programme and on-going local recruitment.

As GCSE and A-Level results have now been published, and school leavers are actively considering career options, the company has invited local students to visit their office to help them prepare for the world of work and to give them insight into the varied range of career opportunities the company has to offer. The full day of activities will also consist of CV writing seminars and interview technique sessions, culminating in a full mock interview, to help prepare the students for the job market.

Growth is a key objective for Covéa Insurance and since October 2012 the company has employed over 85 new starters across its two main locations in Halifax and Reading. The company is also currently developing plans for a new Home Insurance Claims team in Halifax, which will create over 50 new roles.

James Reader, Chief Executive of Covéa Insurance commented: “Attracting the next generation of talent is really important to the progression of Covéa Insurance and it’s great to have the opportunity to not only showcase the careers we have to offer, but to also support local students in a very practical way. As a company we have significant focus on making a positive impact in our local communities and our open day will focus on helping the students gain some essential skills as they find their way in the job market.”

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Bluefin Insurance announces the appointment of Robin Thomson as Regional Managing Director for the Midlands within the Commercial Division from 1st October.

Robin has been the Sales & Marketing Director for the Bluefin Network for eight years and in that time has made a significant contribution to the development of the Network and its members’ businesses. As Regional Managing Director for the Midlands, Robin will lead the growth agenda of the Commercial Division within the region.

Chris Taylor will be promoted to Development Director for Bluefin Network. He will focus on developing relationships with existing network members, helping them develop and grow their businesses making the most of the support and infrastructure the Bluefin Network gives them. Chris has worked for Bluefin Network since 2010.

Bluefin CEO Mike Bruce said: “Both of these high calibre individuals are an incredibly good fit for their new positions. Robin has played a pivotal role in the growth and success of the Network and will be a great addition as Managing Director for the Midlands team within Bluefin’s Commercial Division. Chris is highly regarded for his work in helping brokers develop their businesses in spite of the harsh economic and trading conditions that prevail. We are delighted to be able to leverage their talents within the group.”

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fishbat, one of the leading online marketing firms, comments on an article by Insurance Journal, which discusses why it is important for insurance agencies to engage with their clients on social media.

On August 19, fishbat, one of the leading online marketing firms, responds to an article published by Insurance Journal on August 5th titled “Social Media: It’s Here to Stay,” which explains why social media is an important marketing tool for insurance agencies.

According to the article, insurance agencies believe that social media is not just a passing trend. This is because they have learned how to find out how to research their target market through platforms like Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn, as well as how to properly engage with them. For instance, the article says a company might be wasting its time if it’s just posting its commercial policies on Facebook instead of communicating with its audience.

The article suggests that a business should promote themselves in one out of every seven posts. The rest of the Facebook posts should be fun, engaging, and educational. The article mentions how some insurance agencies have used local events as a springboard for posting information on social media. For example, the article notes that a local fire, which was caused by a gas leak, prompted a company to warn its followers that it could happen to anyone.

Justin Maas, vice president of client relations at fishbat, one of the nation’s leading online marketing firms, believes that every business should take advantage of social media. “Some business owners are still debating whether or not they should use social media,” he says. “The longer they hesitate, the longer they prevent themselves from receiving valuable information which will help them in the future. It will also help users.”

Maas also agrees that social media is here to stay. “We are only beginning to discover just how much social media can help us communicate with each other and gather information,” he says. “Within the next decade, I believe that social media will be so ingrained in society that everyone is going to wonder how in the world we could function without it.”

fishbat, Inc. is an award-winning, full-service Internet marketing company and social media agency. We’re branding experts dedicated to making your business a part of conversations that are already happening. Through social media management, search engine optimization (SEO), web design, and cutting-edge public relations strategies, we can raise awareness of your brand, strengthen your corporate image, and place your business in front of your ideal audience.

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Rates ticked up last year for auto and homeowners insurance in Ohio, says a new report from the state’s insurance department.

Among the state’s top 10 private passenger auto insurance groups, rates increased 4.1 percent on average, according to data released Monday by the agency.

The average uptick for the state’s top 10 homeowners insurance groups was 7.6 percent. The top tier of providers represents about 70 percent of each market, the report indicated.

Auto insurance rates are affected by medical costs, weather-related claims, the number of cars on roads and repair costs. Homeowners rates are a function of weather-related claims and building and materials costs.

Data from the National Association of Insurance Commissioners in 2010 said Ohio had the 6th-lowest homeowners rates at $624, compared with a national average of $906. Its $619 average for auto insurance rates put it 9th-lowest in that regard, when compared with a $791 national average.

“Ohio’s historically competitive insurance marketplace continues to provide consumers with choice and affordable options for auto and homeowners insurance,” Department of Insurance Director Mary Taylor said in a press release.

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Aon plc, the leading global provider of risk management and human resource consulting and outsourcing, today announced the expansion of the firm’s partnership with the National Football League (NFL) which will allow Aon to continue to bring cross-cultural experiences to its clients in the London market. Headquartered in London, Aon has worked with the NFL to bring the game to fans across the UK since 2012.

“The NFL understands that the issues Aon helps clients with every day and that are core to our business – talent, health, risk, retirement, data and analytics and capital – also drive successful performance and results in sports,” said Patrick Pierce, Aon’s global director of sponsorships. “One of the shared qualities of sport and business is that the outcome is unknown. Managing this risk successfully allows a great team to deliver great results, whether on the field of play or at work. We are thrilled to further our partnership with the NFL and again demonstrate the capabilities that empower results for Aon’s clients in the UK and around the world.”

“Last year, we witnessed Aon’s enormous passion for this partnership and their ability to help the NFL bring tremendous cross-cultural experiences to a new market,” said Marc Reeves, the NFL’s International Commercial Director. “Aon is a committed and engaged partner, and we are pleased to be aligned with a global firm that shares our interest in introducing the UK and Aon’s clients, markets and colleagues to American football and the NFL. We look forward to working with Aon as we continue to spread our sport’s presence in the UK and around the globe.”

Aon, which will serve as an official sponsor of the two sold-out NFL games scheduled this autumn at Wembley Stadium in London, already has a strong connection with sports in the UK. Since 2010, the firm has been the principal partner and global shirt sponsor of Manchester United, one of the world’s most successful sports teams and one of sports’ most recognized brands. In 2013, Aon announced a new eight-year partnership agreement with Manchester United, including sponsorship of the team’s training complex, training kit, international tours and leadership of the Manchester United Business Network and the Manchester United Foundation.

The NFL will play two regular-season games in London for the first time this year as part of the International Series, when the Minnesota Vikings host the Pittsburgh Steelers on Sunday, September 29, and the Jacksonville Jaguars host the San Francisco 49ers on Sunday, October 28.

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Not only is Lloyd’s insuring many of the boats competing at Cowes Week, many enthusiastic sailors in the market will also be taking part in the regatta.

Lloyd’s underwriters and brokers will be among the 8,500 professional and amateur sailors competing at the week-long regatta, beginning 3 August. And while some will be sailing in their own boats, the Lloyd’s Yacht Club – which is celebrating its 75th anniversary this year – will be competing all week in the Lutine, Lloyd’s own 53ft Swan yacht.

A key part of the summer sporting calendar, the Cowes regatta attracts up to 1,000 competing yachts, including both classic and modern boats, from large ocean racing yachts to smaller classes like the Flying 15.

Risks are heightened when racing because yachts are often being pushed to their limits, explains Richard Power of specialist yacht insurance broker Fastnet Marine, which specialises in insuring racing boats, as well as providing cover from dinghies to super-yachts.

“Racing yachts are built for speed, and their construction specifications and materials reflect the need to save on weight,” explains Power, who is racing at Cowes in the Etchells Class. “Under racing conditions, yachts are pushed harder, which increases the risks of dismasting, keel damage and, in offshore racing, hull delamination,” he says.

High-value and high-tech

Advances in racing yacht design in recent years mean much faster boats, according to Keith Lovett of Haven Knox-Johnston, a trading name of Amlin Underwriting Services Ltd, a Lloyd’s service company specialising in yacht insurance.

Stripped down racing machines like the TP52 are high value and use expensive high-tech materials like carbon fibre, Kevlar and titanium for their masts and rigging, says Lovett, who has raced at Cowes in previous years and whose company will insure hundreds of boats taking part in this year’s event. Such yachts are the Formula One cars of sailing, and can easily cost in excess of £400,000 to buy.

Collision threat

Damage to the larger racing machines can be costly because parts are usually bespoke and replacements are not readily available. Their specialist construction also makes racing yachts more expensive to repair as only a few boatyards are able to cope with the repairs.

The main risks in Cowes Week are collision and grounding, as competitors deal with a crowded racecourse and strong tides, according to Power. However, the risks of collision, while still a major factor, have been reducing with improvements in technology – race organisers use computer software to plan races to keep classes apart.

Race cover

Underwriters cover the risks of damage caused by vessels colliding during the heat of the race, explains Paul Miller of R&Q Marine.

“While accidents are rare, some of the larger ships racing at Cowes, such as the Volvo 70s and Mini Maxi, are valued in the millions of pounds.

“These machines are built to be raced and, when racing is close, the chances for breakage and collision are greater, but they are crewed by the cream of the sailing fraternity,” he says.

Degrees of risk

Standard yacht insurance can cover damage caused by racing, although competitors must disclose their intension to race to underwriters so they can properly assess the risk.

“If an owner tells us that they will be racing we will want to get a handle on it,” says Lovett. “We will need to know the basis of the racing – whether it is just a local club race or whether they will be competing in the challenging Fastnet race – as this changes the risk considerably,” he adds.

All competitors at Cowes are also required to purchase third party liability of at least £2m, although £3m is fairly standard for most policies.

Boat owners also buy insurance to cover professional racing crews, and although serious incidents are rare they do happen – the British Olympic sailor Andrew Simpson died in a tragic accident when a catamaran capsized during a training session earlier this year.

Professional crew members can earn as much as £3,000 per day, and this is reflected in the liability and personal accident cover that owners buy.

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Underlying earnings for the first six months of 2013 improved by 33 per cent to £89 million (H1 2012: £66 million).

Total AXA Wealth sales increased 68 per cent to £2.5 billion*, increasing assets under management 21 per cent to £24.3 billion.
Property and Casualty (P&C) insurance revenues remain flat at £2 billion, with disciplined underwriting delivering an improvement in the combined ratio of 2.3 points to 98.7 per cent (H1 2012: 101.0 per cent).

Commenting on the results, Paul Evans, UK and Ireland Group Chief Executive said:

“I am very pleased with the results that we have reported for the first half of this year, particularly given the challenging economic conditions and extremely competitive markets within which our businesses operate.

“AXA Wealth has delivered excellent results in the first half of 2013 with total sales up 68 per cent*, thanks largely to the early positioning of the Elevate wrap platform to meet adviser needs in the post-RDR environment and which additionally anticipated the proposed regulation of fund manager rebates. As a result of this positioning, and strong platform functionality and service, we have seen a 52 per cent rise in IFA inflows onto the platform, bringing total funds on Elevate to £6.4 billion.

“We continue to see strong growth within UK Commercial Lines (+11 per cent) where higher volumes, positive rating action and on-going efficiency improvements over recent years have restored underwriting profitability during the first half of 2013, which, together with the benefit of more benign weather conditions than seen last year, contributed to the 2.3 point improvement in the overall combined ratio at 98.7 per cent. Growth has also been achieved in Healthcare (+3 per cent) and UK Motor insurance (+4 per cent), together offsetting further portfolio pruning in non-core segments of the personal lines portfolio, and disciplined underwriting within fiercely competitive markets.

“In 2010 AXA UK launched a business transformation in order to reposition our offering to better serve the needs of both our customers and brokers whilst improving the cost efficiency of our operations. These changes are now delivering stronger results for our customers, brokers and shareholders, and I am confident that we are well positioned to continue building on this success in the years to come.”

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Aviva will sell life and general insurance products through an expanded network of 900 branches
The existing agreement will be extended by further ten years until December 2033

Aviva and Bank Zachodni WBK have today agreed an expansion of their strategic partnership in Poland. Under the agreement, Aviva will increase its distribution network from 500 to 900 branches across Poland, with access to 4 million bank customers.

Additionally, Aviva and BZ WBK will extend their strategic partnership by further ten years, until 31 December 2033. This is in line with Aviva’s strategy of growing in attractive markets such as Poland.

Bank Zachodni WBK, part of the Santander Group, is the third-largest bank in Poland in terms of assets, credit book and deposits.

Aviva is Poland’s fourth-largest life insurer, with a strong retail business and distribution agreements in place with Bank Zachodni WBK, BGZ, Alior and Pocztowy.

The extension of this agreement is subject in particular to regulatory approvals.

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Ageas announces with deep sadness that Mr Ronny Bruckner, member of the Board of Directors, has passed away at the age of 56.

Ronny Bruckner had joined the Ageas Board of Directors in 2011 for a first mandate of three years.

The Chairman and the members of the Board pay tribute to Mr Bruckner’s professionalism and courage during his tenure as a Director. They also convey their deepest sympathy to Mr Bruckner’s spouse and children offering them their heartfelt support at this sad and difficult time.