Amsterdam Financial Services Correspondent
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Jan 24, 2012

Travelers profit down, but pricing rebounds sharply

Jan 24 (Reuters) – Travelers Cos Inc (TRV.N: Quote, Profile, Research) posted a
smaller-than-expected quarterly profit as it released less money
from its reserves than a year earlier, but it also reported its
biggest rate increases in eight years as the industry regained
pricing power.

Shares of Travelers fell 3 percent in morning trading,
leading all industry decliners and wiping out the stock’s gains
for the year, but analysts anticipated those declines and said
they would be a buying opportunity.

Jan 21, 2012

Italy disaster shows Titanic lifeboat issues linger

LONDON/BOSTON (Reuters) – The capsizing of the Costa Concordia will pressure the cruise industry to address a safety question that has lingered since the Titanic disaster almost 100 years ago – how to get thousands of people off a giant cruise ship into lifeboats quickly.

Carnival Corp (CCL.N: Quote, Profile, Research), owner of the Concordia, conceded on Thursday that the accident, which has led to the deaths of at least 11 people with another 24 unaccounted for out of its 4,200 passengers and crew, “has called into question our company’s safety and emergency response procedures.” A Carnival spokesman could not immediately comment on whether the company’s safety review would include the lifeboats.

Jan 20, 2012

Analysis: Italy disaster shows Titanic lifeboat issues linger

LONDON/BOSTON (Reuters) – The capsizing of the Costa Concordia will pressure the cruise industry to address a safety question that has lingered since the Titanic disaster almost 100 years ago – how to get thousands of people off a giant cruise ship into lifeboats quickly.

Carnival Corp, owner of the Concordia, conceded on Thursday that the accident, which has led to the deaths of at least 11 people with another 24 unaccounted for out of its 4,200 passengers and crew, “has called into question our company’s safety and emergency response procedures.” A Carnival spokesman could not immediately comment on whether the company’s safety review would include the lifeboats.

Jan 20, 2012

AIG CEO says no decision on AIA, ILFC yet

Jan 20 (Reuters) – The time is not right for
bailed-out insurer American International Group Inc (AIG.N: Quote, Profile, Research) to
take its airplane leasing unit ILFC public, AIG Chief Executive
Bob Benmosche told CNBC television on Friday.

In an interview, Benmosche said AIG had a series of criteria
for launching the ILFC offering, which were all “red” now. He
said the company wants to see green lights before it proceeds.

Jan 19, 2012

Ship disaster unlikely to prompt quick safety changes

By Ben Berkowitz and Jonathan Saul

(Reuters) – The cruise ship disaster off Italy’s coast is drawing fresh scrutiny to the gaps in international safety rules and standards – yet there may be little appetite among the world’s major shipping nations and companies for big changes anytime soon.

While an international regime exists for the training of mariners on everything from car ferries to cruise ships, enforcing that is very much a national affair.

Jan 18, 2012

Analysis: Ship disaster unlikely to prompt quick safety changes

By Ben Berkowitz and Jonathan Saul

(Reuters) – The cruise ship disaster off Italy’s coast is drawing fresh scrutiny to the gaps in international safety rules and standards – yet there may be little appetite among the world’s major shipping nations and companies for big changes anytime soon.

While an international regime exists for the training of mariners on everything from car ferries to cruise ships, enforcing that is very much a national affair.

Jan 18, 2012

AIG sees sales uptick as it brings back brand

BOSTON (Reuters) – Bailed-out insurer American International Group (AIG.N: Quote, Profile, Research, Stock Buzz) saw a double-digit spike in business when its life insurance unit Matrix Direct started advertising under the AIG Direct name instead, the company said, in the first test of whether its brand survived the financial crisis intact.

The pilot, which started last year, was AIG’s first tentative step back into the advertising market as a brand since the U.S. government rescued the company from the brink of bankruptcy in September 2008.

Jan 16, 2012

Costa Concordia likely worst maritime insurance loss

LONDON/BOSTON (Reuters) – The wrecked cruiseliner Costa Concordia could turn out to be the biggest insured loss in maritime history, analysts and industry experts said on Monday, with some suggesting insurers and mutual societies could end up shouldering $1 billion in losses.

The Costa, a multistory liner carrying over 4,000 passengers and crew, ran aground and capsized off Italy’s west coast at the weekend, killing at least five and injuring dozens.

Jan 13, 2012

Prudential in death benefits deal with 20 states

Jan 13 (Reuters) – Prudential Financial (PRU.N: Quote, Profile, Research) will
more closely cross-reference its policy database with public
death records under a deal with 20 states that resolves a
controversy over unpaid claims.

The office of Massachusetts Treasurer Steven Grossman
announced the deal on Friday. It did not list the 20 states that
were party to the agreement.

Jan 12, 2012

Analysis: 2012 starts with bad weather signs for insurers

BOSTON (Reuters) – Damaging hailstorms in Australia. Unprecedented tornadoes in the southeastern United States. Constant windstorms in northern Europe. Sound familiar?

This year is starting a lot like last year in terms of unexpectedly severe weather, to the consternation of the insurance industry, which paid out more than $100 billion in 2011 on natural disasters.

    • 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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