More Insurers Opting to Form EU Subsidiaries

A growing list of insurers are choosing to form subsidiaries in the European Union to ensure continuous coverage for their European clients following the United Kingdom’s withdrawal from the EU in June 2016. They wish to protect themselves in case Brexit impacts their ability to sell insurance policies and products across the EU from bases in Britain.

FM Global recently announced it is opening an office in Luxembourg, noting that the license allows it to “continue to deliver seamless insurance coverage to its policyholders” throughout the European Economic Area (EEA), where it has operated for more than 50 years.

“We chose Luxembourg as our EEA hub because it’s a multinational business-friendly financial center with regulatory expertise that enables us to remain true to our mutual insurance company business model,” Chris Johnson, executive vice president who will serve as its managing director said in a statement. “Most notably, Luxembourg is a hub that permits EU passporting—which fits our business model perfectly.”

Lloyd’s said in March it will establish an EU base in Brussels that will allow its markets to continue to write risks from all 27 EU and three European Economic Area states post-Brexit. “It is important that we are able to provide the market and customers with an effective solution that means business can carry on without interruption when the U.K. leaves the EU,” Lloyd’s Chief Executive Inga Beale said in a statement. She added that Brussels met the critical elements of providing a robust regulatory framework in a central location.

Lloyd’s said its intention is to be ready to write business for the Jan. 1, 2019, renewal season.

U.S. insurer AIG also announced recently that it is moving its headquarters from London to Luxembourg; and Lloyd’s insurer Hiscox said in May that it has decided to establish a subsidiary in Luxembourg, after debating between Luxembourg and Malta.

Luxembourg has said that as well as insurers, it is in talks with firms including asset managers, banks and financial tech companies.

Greenberg, New York State Settle Long-Running Civil Case

One of Wall Street’s longest-running dramas closed Feb. 10 as New York State and Maurice “Hank” Greenberg finally ended a legal clash which began in 2005 under the stewardship of then Attorney General Elliot Spitzer.

Former American International Group, Inc. CEO Greenberg and the Attorney General’s office reached a settlement over accusations that the company engaged in fraudulent transactions to boost reserves and hide losses.

Greenberg, who was chairman and CEO of AIG from 1967 until his ouster in 2005 and now serves as chairman and CEO of C.V. Starr & Co., will pay some $9 million to end his role in the saga. Also, Howard Smith, former AIG CFO and Greenberg’s lieutenant will pay $900,000 to settle the charges stemming from two alleged transactions designed to misrepresent company finances.

This included a $500 million deal in the year 2000 with reinsurer General Re, part of businessman Warren Buffet’s Berkshire Hathaway Inc., to pad AIG’s loss reserves. Greenberg allegedly initiated the Gen Re deal with a call to the company’s CEO.

The two former AIG leaders were also said to be involved in a deal with Capco Reinsurance Co., which masked a $210 million underwriting loss as an investment loss.

The sums paid by the men are related to performance bonuses earned from 2001 to 2004, according to New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, who inherited the long-running conflict. Schneiderman sought to ban the men from the securities industry and from serving as directors and officers of public companies as part of the settlement, which ultimately did not include these provisions.

Schneiderman had previously dropped a $6 billion damage claim against Greenberg and others, once a class action settlement was approved in 2013 under which Greenberg paid $115 million to AIG shareholders.

A 2009 settlement with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission over charges related to AIG‘s accounting saw Greenberg pay $15 million and Smith $1.5 million to the agency.

Late last year Greenberg and the Attorney General’s office turned to mediation after trial testimony had already begun in state court. The mediation, which ultimately produced the settlement, was run by alternative dispute resolution specialist Kenneth Feinberg.

The finale to the case was perhaps more of a whimper than a bang, with settlements hardly headline-grabbing and no one admitting to much more than accounting slips.

In a press release from the N.Y. State Attorney General’s Office, Schneiderman sounded a triumphant tone. “Today’s agreement settles the indisputable fact that Mr. Greenberg has denied for 12 years: that Mr. Greenberg orchestrated two transactions that fundamentally misrepresented AIG’s finances,” Schneiderman said in the statement. “After over a decade of delays, deflections, and denials by Mr. Greenberg, we are pleased that Mr. Greenberg has finally admitted to his role in these fraudulent transactions and will personally pay $9 million to the State of New York.”

Greenberg, who was unapologetic, in his statement said, “The Gen Re transaction was done for the purpose of increasing AIG’s loss reserves, and the Capco transaction was done for the purpose of converting underwriting losses into investment losses. I knew these facts at the time that I initiated, participated in and approved these two transactions…As a result of these transactions, AIG’s publicly-filed consolidated financial statements inaccurately portrayed the accounting, and thus the financial condition and performance for AIG’s loss reserves and underwriting income.”

The pundits had their say as well, split as to what it all meant.

“The taxpayers of New York State should be furious,” said the Wall Street Journal’s Paul Gigot, editorial page editor. “The $9 million fine amounts to pin money for Mr. Greenberg…It won’t come close to covering the state’s costs for pursuing the case over so many years…The real lessons of the Greenberg case start with the absurd lengths that progressive prosecutors will go to punish capitalists they don’t like,” Gigot said.

Mr. Greenberg’s lawyer David Bois called the deal with the Attorney General a “nuisance settlement,” according to the New York Times.

Others were less forgiving of Mr. Greenberg. “Just because he hasn’t pled guilty to fraud doesn’t mean he’s been vindicated,” David Schiff, a former insurance analyst who followed AIG, told the Times.

Hank Greenberg Shares Concerns for Insurance Industry at RIMS Canada Conference

Hank Greenberg RIMS canada

QUEBEC CITY, CANADA—Currently on the mend from Legionnaires’ disease, Maurice “Hank” Greenberg appeared via live video stream to deliver the keynote address to the 2015 RIMS Canada Conference. The chairman and CEO of the Starr Companies and former chairman and CEO of AIG gave a frank and diverse address highlighting a number of concerns about potential impacts to the insurance industry due to the current climate.

“We’re living in a very troubled time on a global basis,” he said, emphasizing geopolitical instability. While such geopolitical uncertainty demonstrates the need for political insurance, other widespread conditions do not necessarily have such favorable implications for the industry.

“Clearly commercial insurance rates are under pressure,” he said. “The absence of catastrophes has masked that rates have gone down so much, and that has allowed some companies to survive.”

He also noted that investment income is suffering because of interest rates, and expressed concern that many companies are turning to long-tail reserves for income. What’s more, he said, accident year results for many companies are turning negative, and many are finding their reserves inadequate, particularly as expense ratios are frequently increasing rather than remaining steady. Companies that aren’t very efficient will find it very hard to be competitive and show returns this year, he cautioned.

Further examining the industry, Greenberg criticized insurers for “not doing a very good job of training underwriters,” seeing a stark comparison to the rigorous, diverse experience previously customary in the London market, for example.

“It takes years of experience to train an underwriter—they are not just qualified because of a college degree,” he said. “It takes years of work and a lot of common sense to develop the wisdom to know what can be underwritten and at what price.”

When it comes to this talent concern, he noted, it is not a question of which companies are doing better, but a problem across the board. “I don’t think we have the discipline, as an industry, to do the job properly,” Greenberg said.

Greenberg also shared some of his political opinions, both international and domestic. Of China, the US-ASEAN Business Council chairman emeritus and vice chairman of the Council on Foreign Relations said he does not share the widespread dubious feelings on China. “They’ve had some missteps. What country hasn’t?” he said.

He spent some of his time addressing the burgeoning 2016 U.S. election. Greenberg noted Donald Trump’s campaign as part of what he views as growing dissatisfaction – and perhaps inadequacy – of the current political system. “People are fed up with the political system as it currently exists. Why else would somebody like Trump, who has no experience but is speaking about things people care about be doing so well?” he said.

He also told the crowd that Jeb Bush would personally be visiting him Wednesday. Greenberg does not yet endorse any particular candidate, however, and expressed some concern about the Republican party’s position amid acute socioeconomic changes and resulting political demands nationwide.

“You have to give people the opportunity to succeed—that’s the American Dream. That’s why people came here,” he said. “If we’re going to deny that opportunity, the Republican party will have to change its name.”

RIMS Inducts Three Industry Legends into Risk Management Hall of Fame

NEW ORLEANS—Today, Gary E. Bird, James D. Hinton and Reginald A. Pitchford were recognized as the 2015 inductees to the Risk Management Hall of Fame (RMHF), a joint venture between AIG and RIMS that celebrates risk professionals who have made exceptional contributions to advancing the discipline.

“With an eye on the future, it’s important that we remember the risk management leaders who have laid the groundwork, generously volunteered their experiences and demonstrated an unwavering commitment to advancing the profession,” said RIMS Executive Director Mary Roth. “Gary, James and Reginald are shining examples of this industry’s best and it is a privilege to announce their induction into the Risk Management Hall of Fame.”

“Throughout their professional careers, these industry leaders have gone above and beyond to make significant achievements in risk management,” said Rob Schimek, President and CEO of the Americas for AIG. “It is truly an honor to recognize them for their success.”

gary bird

Before his death on September 11, 2001, Gary Bird served as director of risk management at the Phelps Dodge Corporation and senior vice president of construction risk management at Marsh & McLennon. He also authored the first three editions of The Wrap-Up Guide, an internationally recognized series that explores strategies and best-practices for managing liability policies designed to serve as all-encompassing insurance for all contractors and subcontractors. For his contributions to the field, IRMI changed the name of its annual construction risk management award in his honor, annually celebrating a risk or safety manager who has implemented an innovative risk management program for a construction project with the Gary E. Bird Horizon Award.

Jim Hinton

James “Jim” Hinton spent 33 years managing risk with the Hospital Corporation of America (HCA) and its predecessor companies and served as president of Health Care Indemnity, Inc., HCA’s captive insurance company. In addition to developing innovative loss prevention programs, he lobbied successfully with industry colleagues to change the legal environment by investing heavily in tort reform efforts. Hinton also dedicated much of his life to leading a number of charities dedicated to aiding individuals with cerebral palsy and other disabled adults, spurred by his son’s struggle with the disorder. In recognition of his dedication to both risk management and social service, the James D. Hinton Memorial Captive Insurance Volunteer Award was created and awarded to Jim after his death in 2012 for his outstanding leadership within the captive insurance community.

reginald pitchford

After serving in the Royal Air Force medical service during World War II, Reginald Pitchford worked his way up in the Canadian risk and insurance fields, becoming a champion of risk management in Manitoba and the RIMS Manitoba Chapter (MARIMS) before it even achieved chapter status in 1976. His work as corporate risk manager at United Grain Growers Insurance Department was characterized by his belief that a primary risk function established a strong foundation, ultimately leading to one of the first successful applications of a series of risk processes that would later be called Enterprise Risk Management. In the early years of MARIMS, he was critical in its growth, serving as chapter president while also holding the position of president of the Insurance Institute of Manitoba and sitting on the Council of the Insurance Institutes of Canada, and taught during the 1960s and ’70s as a Fellow of the Insurance Institute of Canada.