Trouble Ahead, Trouble Behind

By | December 20, 2004

The time seems to fly by so fast when you’re covering insurance. It’s been quite an eventful first year for Insurance Journal Midwest.

We saw Near North Insurance Brokerage CEO Michael Segal convicted on dozens of federal fraud and racketeering charges. He now sits in prison awaiting sentencing next month. We saw Chicago-based Aon, the world’s No. 2 broker, get into some hot water as it appeared to be next on the radar screen of New York Attorney General Eliot Spitzer, who’s already targeted the world’s No. 1 broker, Marsh. We also saw Chicago-based Hub International Ltd. stake its claim as an increasingly important presence in the North American brokerage market.

We saw both good and bad from politicians in the Midwest. Ohio Gov. Robert Taft, a Republican, passed a number of landmark tort reforms that insurers and business groups in the Buckeye State have been pushing for quite some time. Meanwhile, Taft’s appointee, Insurance Director Ann Womer-Benjamin has taken the lead on trying to rein in the tort costs pushing medical liability rates to near-crisis levels.

In Michigan, we saw a near opposite approach to problem-solving, as Democratic Gov. Jennifer Granholm and Office of Financial and Insurance Services Commissioner Linda Watters tried to push a complete ban on credit scoring through the administrative rule-making process once it was clear they didn’t have the votes to get what they wanted in the Michigan Legislature.

In Missouri, Gov. Bob Holden tried to use a campaign against the insurance industry and a ban on credit scoring in a last-ditch attempt to save his one-term governorship against a Democratic primary challenger. It didn’t work. He lost the primary to Claire McCaskill, who went on to lose a close race to Republican Matt Blunt.

For the full story on the top newsmakers affecting the world of insurance in 2004, see our story on page 27. Meanwhile, Online Editor Dave Thomas and International Editor Charlie Boyle give us the lowdown on the national and international scene, where four little hurricanes ravaged the Southeast, one big merger shook up the country, and one Empire State attorney general upended the industry. See page N6 for that story.

So did we miss anybody on our lists? Please let me know by e-mail or give me a call anytime at my Chicago office, (773) 381-1572. Thanks again for reading this year, and hopefully for many years to come. If you enjoy the magazine, tell your colleagues about it and let them know that as independent agents they qualify for a free subscription.

See you in 2005!

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