Category Archives: Industry Awards & Events

Oscar Time

Forget the category for Best Picture. With the Academy Awards just two days away, it’s the riskiest films of the year that insurers are thinking about. And, the awards go to “2012,† “Crazy Heart,† “Inglorious Basterds,† and “Nine,† according to Fireman’s Fund Insurance Company, the leading insurer of major Hollywood films for more than 85 years. Over to Wendy Diaz, entertainment underwriting director at Fireman’s Fund: “While people enjoyed watching these movies, most weren’t aware of the risk challenges involved when filming complex sequences that included air and watercraft stunts, strenuous dance sequences, air balloon explosions, and simulated natural disasters.† She notes that these types of scenes contribute appreciably to a film’s overall risk and Fireman’s Fund helps by creating solutions to cover specific exposures. Take Best Picture nominee “Inglorious Basterds.† Filmed in Germany and the UK, this period piece is based in World War II and includes many stunts, fight scenes and pyrotechnics. International locations also pose a wide variety of challenges for filmmakers, including the set, transportation of film, equipment and costumes, and the potential of dealing with illness in a foreign country. During the filming process movie studios must protect themselves from a variety of insurance risks and liabilities to their cast members, crew and the production process. Tailored insurance solutions, such as those provided by Fireman’s Fund, can help producers and studios attain the artistic results they are seeking, while also ensuring the movie is filmed safely, on-time and within budget.

Nat Cat Year in Review Webinar

Munich Re and the Insurance Information Institute (I.I.I.) jointly present an overview of natural catastrophe activity in the 2009 Natural Catastrophe Year in Review webinar at 11:00am today. Speakers will cover a range of topics including an overview of both U.S. and global catastrophe activity. I.I.I. president Dr. Robert Hartwig will also discuss the economic implications of the U.S. natural catastrophes that occurred in 2009. A commentary on the Haiti earthquake including potential insurance claims implications will also be provided by Ernst Rauch of Munich Re. To register for the webinar, click here. Munich Re recently reported that natural catastrophe losses were far lower in 2009 than in 2008 due to the absence on the whole of major catastrophes and a very benign North Atlantic hurricane season. However, the total number of destructive natural hazard events, at 850, was above the long-term average. Check out further I.I.I.  facts and stats  on global catastrophes  and U.S. catastrophes.

P/C Joint Industry Forum

The 14th annual Property/Casualty Insurance Joint Industry Forum will be held tomorrow at the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel in New York City. The Forum, sponsored by 16 leading property/casualty insurance trade associations, was created to provide p/c insurance and reinsurance company leaders with an opportunity to meet and discuss topics of general interest. A panel of experts will first discuss the insurance industry from the perspective of those who regulate, analyze and write about the business. This will be followed by a panel of industry CEOs who will discuss general trends in industry services. A reception and dinner that evening will feature an address by Kimberley Strassel, a member of the editorial board and columnist at The Wall Street Journal. For more information on the Forum, contact  Loretta Worters at the I.I.I. on 212-346-5545.

Wrapping up 2009 – Part II

Legal decisions have a big impact on the insurance industry, so it’s fitting that we see out the year with a couple of great round-ups  from the legal experts. Music fans will enjoy the tribute to pop legend Michael Jackson in Thriller: 9th Annual Review of the Year’s Ten Most Significant Insurance Coverage Decisions by attorney Randy Maniloff of law firm White and Williams LLP. Maniloff’s new rendition of the MJ classic “Beat It† may just reach the top of the insurance charts. His accompanying 2nd annual Coverage for Dummies special report also makes for an entertaining read with its summary of the not-to-be-believed behavior that causes injury and the filing of a lawsuit, followed by the inevitable insurance claim. U.S. Supreme Court decisions have the ability to change the course of entire categories of litigation and with them the fortunes of insurers. Over at Lawyers USA, Kimberly Atkins summarizes some of the top Supreme Court rulings of 2009. Among them, Wyeth v. Levine, a decision with significant ramifications for product liability litigation we wrote about here, and Gross v. FBL Financial Services an age discrimination ruling we wrote about here. Meanwhile, the National Law Journal’s (NLJ) spotlight on the decade’s biggest legal stories brings out some top insurance stories too. This decade saw the war on terror test the limits of law and accounting scandals flood the courts, stories which rank first and third respectively on the NLJ list.

Wrapping up 2009 – Part I

As the end of the year approaches, it’s a good time to review the most significant events of 2009 for the insurance industry. Among the various year-end musings offered by our fellow insurance bloggers, National Underwriter’s Sam Friedman reminds us that 2009 could have been worse. Some of the positives? The property/casualty insurance market, while still soft on the commercial lines side, at least began to stabilize. Insurers were also spared any major natural or man-made disasters compared to the multi-event years seen far too often in this decade, Friedman notes. And despite the coverage crisis headlines, Chinese drywall is far from becoming “the next asbestos.† In a similar vein Business Insurance’s Rodd Zolkos offers a not-so-fond farewell to a tough, testing year noting that another item on the plus side of this year’s ledger was the mild hurricane season – the calmest in 12 years, according to the I.I.I. From the buyers’ perspective Zolkos points out that another positive was that expectations of a market hardening in the fourth quarter of 2009 never came to fruition. Meanwhile, Alex Ferguson of Reinsurance Magazine’s blog-re.com gives us his good year/bad year take on 2009 from the reinsurance perspective. And Risk Management magazine takes a look back at some of the year’s most captivating risk-related images, describing 2009 as a year marked not by any one event but by trends that will have lasting repercussions for years to come.

Clinton and Hartwig Opening Highlights of PLUS Conference

In the wake of the global financial crisis and amid the unraveling of numerous financial scandals including Madoff, Stanford and Galleon, the 22nd International PLUS Conference in Chicago this week would be anything but dull. Add to the mix an opening day keynote by former President Bill Clinton and a forecast on the industry by I.I.I. president Dr. Robert Hartwig and you have the ingredients for a showstopper. In a speech that spanned major topics such as global warming, healthcare reform, and the struggling economy to name just a few, Clinton gave the crowd of professional liability insurance executives and media (seated in the back row of the conference hall) something to think about. A key theme to come from Clinton and one that is very pertinent for insurers is the interdependence of the world we live in. Interdependence brings both benefits and risks, Clinton noted: “Interdependence means being tied together. You can’t get away from the consequences of each others’ actions and you can’t get a divorce.† He said it was important to create a world of positive interdependence. In other words, we have to work together to build a better future. Ahead of Clinton, I.I.I. president Dr. Robert Hartwig gave a wide-ranging presentation on the impact of the global financial crisis and U.S. recession on the property/casualty industry. Dr Hartwig concluded that regulatory overreach, the erosion of tort reform and the long-term reduction in investment earnings are some of the major threats facing the p/c industry going forward.

Brokaw to Speak at Industry Charitable Foundation Gala

NBC’s Tom Brokaw will be the special guest speaker at the annual dinner of the New York division of the Insurance Industry Charitable Foundation (IICF) being held on December 9 at the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel in New York City. Pierre Ozendo, chairman and CEO of Swiss Re America Corp and the 2008 honoree will serve as this year’s dinner chair. IICF will honor Brokaw’s commitment to philanthropy with a grant to the Youth Program of the International Rescue Committee, where he serves on the board of overseers. Proceeds from the event will provide significant grants to other children’s charities in the New York tri-state area such as Boys Hope Girls Hope and the Starlight Children’s Foundation. For Gala information, including ticket sales, please contact the IICF Benefit Office at 212-763-8593 or iicf@cmevents.net. According to a Conference Board survey, the insurance industry ranks among the top 15 contributors when it comes to charitable donations. The insurance industry’s contributions to U.S. beneficiaries totaled $211.1 million in 2007, up from $147 million in 2006. Check out I.I.I. information on corporate social responsibility.

Bill Bailey Memorial

A memorial service for Dr. William E. Bailey J.D., CPCU, special counsel to the Insurance Information Institute (I.I.I.) since 1986 and prominent industry spokesperson will be held  September 26, 2009, at 11am at Trinity Church, 730 Main Street, Waltham, MA. Dr. Bailey died of cancer on Friday, Aug. 21. He was 68 years old and resided in Chelsea, MA, with his wife, Rene. In lieu of flowers, the family requests that a donation be made to the Scholarship Fund at Belmont Hill School, 350 Prospect Street, Belmont MA, 02478-2662, in memory of Bill Bailey, Class of 1958. “All of us will greatly miss Bill’s multitude of talents, perceptive intelligence, life-long dedication to learning, quick wit and boundless enthusiasm. We also remember with appreciation Bill’s outstanding work in disaster communications, having served as director of the first Hurricane Insurance Information Center following Hurricane Andrew in 1992 and working at the scene of every major disaster since, including Hurricane Katrina in 2005,† said Dr. Robert Hartwig, president of the I.I.I. Stories in National Underwriter and Business Insurance pay tribute to Dr. Bailey.

Cheers to Lotto Win etc

It would be remiss of us to end the week without giving a resounding cheer to the 10 Chubb colleagues who hit the jackpot this week with a $216 million (or $140 million one-time payout) Mega Millions lottery win. Now what are the odds of that? The lucky 10 have been working in Chubb’s IT department in Whitehouse Station, New Jersey from seven to 30 years.  We’re happy for their win. And finally a blog update: those of you who read us regularly will be aware that you can now sign up to follow us on Twitter. Just click on the Twitter button on the lower right-hand side to begin tweeting. Another way to follow the blog is via my network on LinkedIn – again click on the button on the right to join my network.  

And the Oscar Goes To…

It’s time to make your Oscar picks and as you select a Best Picture among this year’s crop of nominated films another question you might want to consider is what is the riskiest movie of 2008? According to Fireman’s Fund Insurance Co, honors in this category go to “The Wrestler† a drama about Randy “The Ram† Robinson, a once popular pro wrestling star, now aging and down on his luck. As an insurance risk, the film wins “most risky production† primarily because lead actor Mickey Rourke did much of his own stunt work in the film. The physicality and quantity of the stunts – in one scene Rourke has a brutal wrestling match accompanied by glass shards, staples and barbed wire – made the film a major risk. Luckily adequate precautions were in place to mitigate the risk, including insurance. Among insurance coverages for films, cast insurance covers a range of possible scenarios that could happen to an actor where production would be affected, such as illness, injury or even death. Of the total of 79 Oscar nominees this year Fireman’s Fund insured 46. Insured nominees include “Milk,† “Frost/Nixon,† “The Reader,† “The Dark Knight,† “Changeling,† “Iron Man,† “Defiance,† “In Bruges,† “The Visitor,† “Frozen River,† “Wanted,† and “Hellboy II† as well as “The Wrestler.†

And on a completely different topic here’s a note for your calendar: Fireman’s Fund and the I.I.I. invite you to participate in a webinar next Wednesday February 25 at 1pm ET/10am PT that will provide an overview of the impact of the economic stimulus plan on the property/casualty insurance industry. To register for the webinar, please contact: Susan Murdy, Fireman’s Fund (susan.murdy@ffic.com) or Loretta Worters, I.I.I. (lorettaw@iii.org).