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What’s new: In brief (February 17, 2005)


February 17, 2005   by Canadian Underwriter


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The U.S. House of Representatives quickly passed the “Class Action Fairness Act” Thursday, by a vote of 279-149. The bill’s passage means it could be signed into law as early as Friday by President George W. Bush.

Royal & SunAlliance has announced a GBP160 million loss reserve charge, but the move will not prompt rating agency Standard & Poor’s to downgrade the company. S&P says it expected the reserve boost would not exceed GBP400 million. The reserve charge relates to U.S. business, specifically workers’ compensation, as well as specialty business including directors’ and officers’ (D&O).

Munich Re’s American Re Corp. did not escape the rater’s knife, with A.M. Best announcing it would downgrade the American company and its members to “A” from “A+”. The downgrade follows American Re’s news that it has strengthened reserves by US$180 million in the fourth quarter to fund asbestos exposure. This makes a total of more than US$482 million in prior-year reserve development in 2004 for American Re.

The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) recovered a record US$420 million in funds from employers last year for people filing employment discrimination charges. This included US$251 million in pre-litigation settlements and US$168 million through lawsuits. More than 85,000 charges were resolved last year, with 19.5% in favor of the charging party. And the EEOC filed 378 lawsuits, including 143 involving multiple aggrieved parties.


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