Amsterdam Financial Services Correspondent
Ben's Feed
Jun 15, 2012

Dallas storm insured losses could hit $2 bln-trade group

Dallas, June 15 (Reuters) – Insured losses from the massive
hailstorm that struck the Dallas area on Wednesday could reach
as much as $2 billion, making it one of the most costly storms
of its type in U.S. history, an insurance organization said on
Friday.

The Southwestern Insurance Information Service (SIIS), a
trade group that speaks for property insurers in Texas and
Oklahoma, said members have already classified the storm as
catastrophic.

Jun 15, 2012

Companies clamor for insurance against Greek exit

By Ben Berkowitz

(Reuters) – Companies are clamoring for some kind of insurance protection in case Greece leaves the euro and sticks them with devalued drachmas, but brokers say the uncertainty around Sunday’s election has made that coverage unavailable of late – and it may not be obtainable any time soon, either.

With the outcome so difficult to forecast, most insurers are unwilling to offer coverage to protect against being stuck with a currency that cannot be converted, brokers said.

Jun 15, 2012

Berkshire replaces unit CEO amid junket report

June 15 (Reuters) – Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway Inc
has changed chief executives at paint retailer Benjamin
Moore, amid a published report that the former CEO used company
funds to take top executives on an island jaunt.

A spokeswoman for Benjamin Moore confirmed Denis Abrams was
no longer running the 129-year-old company, which Berkshire
acquired in late 2000. As of June 6 he was replaced by Bob
Merritt, an outside executive.

Jun 11, 2012

Insight: Demand soaring for pension transfers to insurers

BOSTON/NEW YORK (Reuters) – Last week’s deal by Prudential Financial to take on $26 billion of the retirement liabilities of General Motors has reignited a part of the American insurance market that had been bouncing along the bottom in recent years.

But experts in the sector say GM’s splash was so big, there may be somewhat limited capacity for more mega-sized deals in the market for pension-risk transfers. Still, the market could be in the tens of billions over the next few years, they said.

Jun 11, 2012

Demand soaring for pension transfers to insurers

BOSTON/NEW YORK, June 11, (Reuters) – Last week’s deal by
Prudential Financial to take on $26 billion of the
retirement liabilities of General Motors has reignited a
part of the American insurance market that had been bouncing
along the bottom in recent years.

But experts in the sector say GM’s splash was so big, there
may be somewhat limited capacity for more mega-sized deals in
the market for pension-risk transfers. Still, the market could
be in the tens of billions over the next few years, they said.

Jun 7, 2012

NYC at highest risk of hurricane losses: report

By Ben Berkowitz

(Reuters) – When people think of hurricane damage they usually think of Miami or New Orleans, but a new report suggests the greatest financial risk of all may be much farther north: the greater New York City area.

Data analysis firm CoreLogic said in a new report released on Thursday that the U.S. metropolitan area at greatest risk, both in the number of properties affected and the potential value of damage, was New York City. For the firm’s purposes, the area also includes Long Island and northern New Jersey.

Jun 6, 2012

As US interest rates sink, insurers feel pressure

NEW YORK, June 6 (Reuters) – Life insurers are finding that
longer-term U.S. interest rates are even lower than they
expected and are likely to stay that way for some time, forcing
them to shutter some businesses and sell others.

When the Federal Reserve launched “Operation Twist” in
September to lower long-term rates, actuaries and analysts said
insurers would have to accept weaker investment returns, which
along with premiums account for most of insurers’ profits.

May 30, 2012

Rep. Frank offers bill to bar insurance on clawbacks

WASHINGTON/BOSTON, May 30 (Reuters) – Executives at
financial firms would no longer be able to buy insurance to
protect themselves against compensation clawbacks or civil
penalties under legislation introduced on Wednesday by U.S.
Representative Barney Frank.

The bill, Frank said, is aimed at protecting the intent of
the 2010 Dodd-Frank financial reform law, the 2002
Sarbanes-Oxley Act and other laws that let federal regulators
recoup compensation or impose fines on individuals who break the
law or engage in unsafe conduct.

May 29, 2012

Analysis: Investors turning to reinsurance for juiced returns

By Myles Neligan and Ben Berkowitz

(Reuters) – Investors globally, from hedge funds to retirement systems, are looking to an obscure corner of the insurance industry to boost returns and avoid some of the swings that have plagued stock and bond markets in recent years.

Their attention is focused on the reinsurance sector, which covers insurance companies looking to unload risk, attracted by its market-beating returns and low exposure to faltering economic growth in the United States and Europe.

May 23, 2012

MetLife targets global growth, gets bank subpoenas

May 23 (Reuters) – MetLife Inc will change its
product mix in the United States and push harder on growth in
international markets to substantially boost returns by 2016,
the largest U.S. life insurer said on Wednesday.

MetLife also said it had received two subpoenas in April and
May from regulators looking into mortgage servicing and
foreclosure practices at its banking unit. The company had shut
its mortgage businesses by then, and is in the process of
selling the deposit-taking portion of the bank to General
Electric Co.

    • 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."
    • More from Ben

    • Follow Ben