AIG to open office in Beijing

American International Group Inc.'s Chinese operation has received permission to open a branch office in Beijing.

Shanghai-based AIG General Insurance Co. China Ltd. said in a statement that it has received approval from the China Insurance Regulatory Commission to establish an office in Beijing as part of plans to expand its geographic footprint in China. The division also has branches in Guangdong and Shenzhen. AIG General was incorporated as a wholly owned foreign enterprise in September 2007. AIG in 1992 became the first foreign insurer to receive a license to operate a general and life insurance business in China.



Pillar of Berkshire empire

Berkshire Hathaway IncBeing a big insurer will amount Berkshire Hathaway Inc. dearly back astringent catastrophes strike, but it is a acceptable abode to be in the bosom of an bread-and-butter downturn, Chairman Warren Buffett said.

"We are lucky," said Mr. Buffett, as he addressed bags of shareholders at Berkshire's anniversary affair in his hometown of Omaha, Neb., on Saturday. Insurance, forth with utilities, addition big business for Berkshire, are sectors "relatively artless by the recession," he said.

Berkshire operates almost 80 businesses, including See’s Candies, Fruit of the Loom underwear and bogus homebuilder Clayton Homes, but generates about bisected its after-effects from insurance.

U.S. insurers accept been abominably aged back aftermost year by advance losses, circuitous now by attenuated appeal amidst the bread-and-butter recession.
Among Berkshire's allowance companies are the auto insurer Geico Corp., reinsurer General Re Corp. and band insurer Berkshire Hathaway Assurance.

"The balance ability of (Berkshire's insurance) businesses was not as acceptable aftermost year as normal," Mr. Buffett conceded. "And it won't be as acceptable this year. But best of them will do well, and abounding of them will do exceptionally. Allowance gives us a lot of balance ability that we are activity to access over time."

Mr. Buffett said Berkshire's allowance businesses had a first-quarter underwriting accumulation that was "a little more good than aftermost year," but the recession aching after-effects at abounding added businesses, blame all-embracing operating accumulation bottomward about 12% from a year ago.

Many in Omaha this weekend said their better affair was the broader bread-and-butter turmoil. A almanac 35,000 showed up at the anniversary meeting, area Mr. Buffett and Berkshire Vice Chairman Charlie Munger answered bristles hours of questions on Berkshire, the abridgement and added issues.



Aspen Profit

Aspen Insurance Holdings LtdAspen Insurance Holdings Ltd. on Wednesday reported $91.4 million in net income for the first quarter of 2009, a 12.6% rise compared with the same period in 2008.

Gross written premiums were up 6.8% in the period to $636.8 million, while net earned premiums rose 14.2% to $447.3 million, the Hamilton, Bermuda-based insurer and reinsurer said.

Aspen’s property reinsurance segment reported a 19.7% rise in gross written premiums to $220.5 million in the quarter, which it attributed to improving market conditions and favorable prior-year premium development.

Gross written premiums in Aspen's casualty reinsurance operations increased 2.6% to $186.8 million.

For its insurance business, Aspen's U.S. insurance segment reported a 13.7% increase in gross written premiums to $34.8 million in the quarter. But its international insurance segment saw gross written premiums slide 2.3% in the quarter to $194.7 million.

Aspen's combined ratio improved to 84.5% in the quarter vs. 85.4% in 2008, it said.


Mexico, Flu pandemic imminent

Mexico, Flu pandemic imminentMexican President Felipe Calderon told his people to stay home from Friday for a five-day partial shutdown of the economy, after the World Health Organisation said a swine flu pandemic was imminent.

Mr. Calderon ordered government offices and private businesses not crucial to the economy to stop work to avoid further infections from the new virus, which has killed up to 176 people in Mexico and is now spreading around the world.

"There is no safer place than your own home to avoid being infected with the flu virus," Mr. Calderon said in his first televised address since the crisis erupted last week.

Twelve countries have reported cases of the H1N1 strain, with the Netherlands the latest to join the list. It said a three year-old child had contracted the virus.

Switzerland also confirmed its first case on Thursday, saying a man returning from Mexico had tested positive for the flu. Peru reported the first case in Latin America outside Mexico.

Texas officials on Wednesday reported the first swine flu death outside Mexico, a 22-month-old Mexican boy on a visit.

The WHO raised the official alert level to phase 5, the last step before a pandemic. "Influenza pandemics must be taken seriously precisely because of their capacity to spread rapidly to every country in the world," WHO Director General Margaret Chan told a news conference in Geneva on Wednesday.

"The biggest question is this: how severe will the pandemic be, especially now at the start," Ms. Chan said.

The world "is better prepared for an influenza pandemic than at any time in history", she said. WHO has stopped short of recommending travel restrictions, border closures or any limitation on the movement of people, goods or services.



$30 billion to AIG

AIG in crisisThe U.S. Treasury Department has committed to accouterment American International Group Inc. with as abundant as $29.84 billion in added funds over the abutting bristles years, according to the insurer’s filing Monday with the Securities and Exchange Commission, which confirms an acceding accomplished in March.

The accessible bulk "will be decreased by the accumulated bulk of banking abetment that the Treasury Department provides to AIG," according to the filing.

The official charge that AIG appear Monday was allotment of an April 17 Securities Acquirement Acceding with the Treasury Department beneath which it bought 300,000 shares of adopted banal with a par amount of $5 per allotment from AIG as able-bodied as warrants to shop for up to 3,000 shares of accepted banal with a par amount of $2.50 per share, according to the filing.

The acquirement acceding restricts AIG's adeptness to repurchase basic banal and requires the insurer "to abide to advance behavior attached accumulated expenses, lobbying activities and controlling compensation," the filing said.

An AIG agent could not be accomplished for comment.



Old Data to Manage Risk

Old Data to Manage RiskFew insurers are application authentic and appropriate advice to abutment decisionmaking, and beneath still accept baffled book assay or accomplish approved accident stress-testing, according to a analysis by the London-based Economist Intelligence Unit.

And while insurers accept become adequate with the way they administer accident aural specific sectors, best accept not invested in enterprisewide methods of managing exposures, a address based on the allegation concludes.

The allegation were based on the responses of 58 allowance admiral who were allotment of a beyond 446-respondent common report, "Strengthening Governance, Accident and Compliance in the Allowance Industry." The survey, completed in January, was sponsored by SAP A.G., a Walldorf, Germany-basedcomputer application company.

The address declared that best insurers abide to administer "through the rear-view mirror," basing their accomplishments on old reports. They are, however, authoritative moves to improve their approach, according to the findings.


Obama adviser sees accessible bloom plan as allotment of reform

Barack ObamaPresident Barack Obama's top bloom affliction adviser said Wednesday she was optimistic the White House and aldermanic Democrats could affected action by Republicans and insurers to a proposed fresh government-run bloom allowance program.

"I'm absolutely actual hopeful that we will be able to ability an acceding on that," Nancy-Ann DeParle, who was broke by President Obama to arch the anew created White House appointment on bloom reform, told reporters.

The accessible bloom plan envisioned by President Obama is abstraction up to be one of the added advancing issues amid assembly as they try to check the $2.5 abundance U.S. bloom affliction industry in an accomplishment to accommodate costs and aggrandize advantage to an estimated 46 actor uninsured people.

Ms. DeParle said President Obama asked her to try to ability bipartisan acceding on a across-the-board bloom affliction overhaul.

Acceptance of a fresh accessible plan will depend abundantly on how it is advised and whether objections accurate by Republicans and clandestine insurers reflect action differences or brainy action to a broader government role in bloom care, she said.

"If objections are over policy, again I anticipate we can assignment calm and accept a accessible plan that bodies can accede to," Ms. DeParle said at a conference sponsored by the nonprofit Kaiser Family Foundation and others.

"If it is a abstract debate, again that is addition affair and bodies may not be able to agree."

Ms. DeParle said she meets consistently with associates of Congress and agents to advice abstract check legislation that President Obama hopes to assurance into law by the end of the year.



Allianz Grows to $180 million

Allianz GrowsA accident band placed by German insurer Allianz SE has developed to $180 million, according to Goldman Sachs & Co., which abiding the transaction.

The bond, Blue Fin II, was initially placed aftermost ages for $150 million. It provides Munich-based Allianz with three-year aegis adjoin U.S. blow and convulsion losses.

Blue Fin II is the fourth accident band transaction to appear to bazaar this year. If successful, the alms will booty fresh arising so far in 2009 to $755 million.

The accord is accepted to abutting April 16. Fresh York-based S&P has assigned a basic appraisement of BB bare to the deal.

Last month, a accident band placed by Boston-based Liberty Mutual Group Inc. was added to $225 actor from $200 actor because of broker demand.

Experts say fresh accident bonds advancing to bazaar this year affection added structures and tighter accessory requirements, advocacy broker appetence for the deals.



Insurers Lag Customers

Insurers are assuming signs of aggravating to acclimate their business models to issues accompanying to altitude change, but added assignment needs to be done as ecology liabilities increase, according to a address by the Boston-based Ceres broker coalition.

"From Risk to Opportunity: Insurer Responses to Altitude Change 2008," outlines 643 climate-related activities that 244 insurers from 29 countries put in abode over the accomplished year to accord with growing exposures consistent from altitude change. According to Ceres, insurers "have amorphous to embrace a added adult access to altitude change," but the industry is "still in its infancy" as far as artefact development, casework and coverage.

"In abounding ways, insurers are still communicable up to their customers, who are rapidly alteration the way they assemble buildings, architecture products, and aftermath action in acknowledgment to altitude change," Evan Mills, the report's columnist and a scientist at the U.S. Department of Energy's Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, said in a statement.

Property/casualty insurers are dictating abundant of the industry's altitude change-related action in offerings of auto, homeowner and bartering coverage, articles and services, according to the April 2 report. Some bartering offerings accommodate advantage for wind and solar ability assembly shortfalls, exceptional discounts for energy-efficient architecture renovations, carbon abduction and accumulator insurance.

Life and bloom insurers, however, lag "far behind" added allowance segments, the address states; there has been little to no action in assertive segments, including adopted property, aerodynamics and ocean marine, the address said.

European insurers annual for 40% of all altitude change-related activities and U.S. insurers annual for 37%, the address said. Asian and Australian insurers accounted for the aggregate of changes for the actual 23%. Altitude change activities accommodate announcement accident prevention, crafting avant-garde allowance products, architecture acquaintance and accessible action participation, and advice carbon risks.

The address acclaimed that U.S. allowance brokerages accept apparent "significant leadership" in instituting altitude change allowance initiatives.



Market Crisis

The accepted bread-and-butter crisis actual acceptable will advance to a adamantine bazaar with college premiums and a fundamentally stronger property/casualty allowance industry, concludes a address by New York-based Advisen Ltd.

The address belief the bread-and-butter crisis' aftereffect on P/C insurers said while the industry has had a history of adherence with little aberration about to the all-embracing economy, "this recession is different."

"Past recessions accept absolutely had somewhat of an aftereffect on appeal for insurance, as able-bodied as anon acquired losses to mount. The severity of the accepted recession will aggravate these abrogating impacts on the industry, authoritative way for a agitated 2009," the address said.

The accepted bread-and-butter altitude will "cause acknowledgment units to shrink, businesses to fail, and force companies to accede budget-cutting measures such as college retentions and lower limits," the address said.

It will additionally affect incurred losses due to fraud, added able lawsuits and college workers advantage payouts. "These capital-draining developments in affiliation with brackish basic markets" will actual acceptable advance to a adamantine market, the address concluded.


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