Amsterdam Financial Services Correspondent
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Jul 20, 2012

Insight: As crop losses mount, farmers seen quicker to claim

By Ben Berkowitz and Tom Polansek

(Reuters) – The drought ravaging America’s prime farmland is having an unexpected consequence that could shape the future of agricultural finance: in some cases, farmers who have amped up their insurance coverage may be giving up on their crops early rather than to trying to save them.

Anecdotal evidence and economic assumptions suggest that a record number of farmers are likely preparing to file insurance claims this year, opting to plow under their withered crops — some without bothering to administer the costly pesticides and weed killers that might help salvage a dwindling harvest.

Jul 20, 2012

As crop losses mount, farmers seen quicker to claim

July 20 (Reuters) – The drought ravaging America’s prime
farmland is having an unexpected consequence that could shape
the future of agricultural finance: in some cases, farmers who
have amped up their insurance coverage may be giving up on their
crops early rather than to trying to save them.

Anecdotal evidence and economic assumptions suggest that a
record number of farmers are likely preparing to file insurance
claims this year, opting to plow under their withered crops –
some without bothering to administer the costly pesticides and
weed killers that might help salvage a dwindling harvest.

Jul 19, 2012

Travelers misses estimates on disaster losses

By Ben Berkowitz

(Reuters) – Travelers Cos Inc (TRV.N: Quote, Profile, Research, Stock Buzz) reported a second-quarter profit on Thursday but missed Wall Street expectations, as the insurer’s catastrophe losses fell from a year ago but were still higher than historical norms.

Travelers, a Dow Jones industrial average .DJI component, also said commercial insurance pricing had risen more than 7 percent in the quarter. The company was one of the first in the industry to push and sustain price increases after years of weakness. Prices also rose in personal and professional lines, and retentions were steady.

Jul 9, 2012

Progressive expands tracking program to non-customers

By Ben Berkowitz

(Reuters) – Progressive Corp (PGR.N: Quote, Profile, Research, Stock Buzz) already has hundreds of thousands of auto insurance customers who willingly let the company track their driving behavior in exchange for the chance at substantial discounts, and on Monday the company opened the door to competitors’ clients as well.

Progressive, the fourth-largest U.S. auto insurer, said it would open its “Snapshot” usage-based insurance program to anyone who wanted to track how well they drive.

Jun 28, 2012

Exclusive: AIG to resume use of its brand name

NEW YORK (Reuters) – Bailed-out insurer American International Group Inc (AIG.N: Quote, Profile, Research, Stock Buzz) will resume using its brand name in public in a move to recognize the company’s turnaround, Chief Executive Bob Benmosche said on Thursday.

AIG, which received $182 billion in government bailouts during the financial crisis, has all but shunned its own name for years.

Jun 28, 2012

AIG to resume use of its brand name

NEW YORK, June 28 (Reuters) – Bailed-out insurer American
International Group Inc (AIG.N: Quote, Profile, Research) will resume using its brand name
in public in a move to recognize the company’s turnaround, Chief
Executive Bob Benmosche said on Thursday.

AIG, which received $182 billion in government bailouts
during the financial crisis, has all but shunned its own name
for years.

Jun 25, 2012

Supreme Court turns away Louisiana Citizens appeal

By Ben Berkowitz

(Reuters) – The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday said it would not hear an appeal from insurer Louisiana Citizens on a class-action lawsuit that followed Hurricane Katrina, handing another victory to plaintiffs who are already owed more than $105 million.

A local court in 2009 ordered Louisiana Citizens, the state’s insurer of last resort, to pay penalties to policyholders because it took too long to start adjusting more than 18,500 claims after the devastating hurricanes Katrina and Rita in 2005.

Jun 25, 2012

US high court turns away Louisiana Citizens appeal

June 25 (Reuters) – The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday said it
would not hear an appeal from insurer Louisiana Citizens on a
class-action lawsuit that followed Hurricane Katrina, handing
another victory to plaintiffs who are already owed more than
$105 million.

A local court in 2009 ordered Louisiana Citizens, the
state’s insurer of last resort, to pay penalties to
policyholders because it took too long to start adjusting more
than 18,500 claims after the devastating hurricanes Katrina and
Rita in 2005.

Jun 21, 2012

AIG demotes ILFC head for improper relationship

June 21 (Reuters) – Bailed-out insurer AIG on
Thursday said the head of its airplane leasing unit admitted to
having an inappropriate relationship with an employee, and the
company demoted him and cut his salary as a result.

But AIG said Henri Courpron would remain chief executive of
the leasing unit, ILFC, and that it was happy with his
performance in the role.

Jun 19, 2012

MetLife gets Fed extension on capital plans

June 19 (Reuters) – MetLife Inc received a
three-month extension from the U.S. Federal Reserve on its plans
to return capital to shareholders, the company said on Tuesday,
potentially removing a short-term overhang on its stock.

Its shares were up 5.4 percent on Tuesday afternoon, leading
the sector.

MetLife, which has been blocked from raising its dividend or
buying back shares twice in the last eight months, said in a
regulatory filing the Fed gave it an extension to Sept. 30 from
June 12.

    • About Ben

      "Ben Berkowitz covers the insurance industry in New York City. He rejoined Reuters in Amsterdam in May 2009, covering the Dutch banking system and economy. He originally worked for Reuters in Los Angeles and New York from 2001 to 2006 covering everything from video games to oil. In between he was business editor at AOL, head of the editing desk at AP Business News and managing editor of Fidelity.com."
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