by Richard Brown
Chubb CEO blasts Brazil’s leaders
In a surprise political intervention, Evan Greenberg, CEO of Chubb Ltd., slammed the Brazilian government for the country’s economic and political paralysis.
During a conference call Greenberg - just weeks after ACE Ltd’s takeover of Zurich-based Chubb - urged Brazilians to lay the blame for their nation’s misfortunes squarely at the feet of its leaders.
The vast Latin American state is enduring rampant inflation and a downturn seen as the worst in more than a century. Meanwhile, President Dilma Rousseff faces impeachment and the government is mired in the murky Petrobras ‘carwash’ money laundering/corruption scandal.
“The economic environment, the political environment, is very tough,” lamented Greenberg, Bloomberg reports. “And the leadership of the country is inadequate. The policies of the government in Brazil are inadequate.”
Greenberg snapped up an insurance unit from Itau Unibanco Holding SA in Brazil in 2014 while heading ACE. He has blasted Brazil’s government for failing to embrace deregulation of the insurance sector and for its “lousy’’ policies. Greenberg also said he hoped Brazilians would “do the right thing” when it came time to vote.
Finance Minister Nelson Barbosa is expected to seek up to 50 billion reais ($12.3 billion) in loans today (Thursday) in a desperate bid to boost growth.
AIG faces negative credit rating review
AM Best has placed the issuer credit rating (ICR) of American International Group Inc. under review with negative implications and is scrutinising the ICRs and financial strength ratings (FSR) of its insurance subsidiaries.
The move follows AIG bolstering its loss reserves in non-life business by $3.6 billion during Q4 2015. The increase reflects adverse historical long-tail lines which concerns the insurance ratings agency.
In a separate development, AM Best upgraded to ‘A+’ and ‘A’ the ICR and FSR of the US property-casualty subsidiaries of New York-based Assurant.
MetLife warned regulators about break-up
The CEO of America’s largest life insurer warned regulators it might break up if harsher capital requirements were imposed.
Steven Kandarian, CEO of MetLife, told regulators, including Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen and Treasury Secretary Jacob J. Lew, in November 2014 that MetLife was in danger of fragmenting if subject to stricter capital rules.
According to portions of a transcript released in federal court Wednesday, Kandarian told members of the Financial Stability Oversight Council: “I don’t want people to say later on, ‘Geez, we had no idea that you were thinking of this.”’
A month later, the FSOC designated MetLife a systemically important firm. MetLife is suing the panel in the biggest legal confrontation to the FSOC, created under the auspices of Dodd-Frank legislation.
Agents bemoan carriers’ shoddy service, poor tools
Research by Novarica has found insurance agents’ gripes focus on product limitations, bad service, poor tools, complexity, and unexpected change.
The survey of 150 agents revealed how agents attract and serve new clients, plus what they like and don’t like about the service they get from their top carriers.
In addition to citing the disruptive influence of email, other key findings of the report include agent portals being more critical for business than agency management systems, while mobile tools are less important. After product, agents care most about relationships and ease of doing business.
“Insurance agents are facing a world of changed customer expectations, and they need support from their carriers to keep up,” said Martina Conlon, Senior Vice President of Research and Consulting at Novarica and lead author of the report.
“Carriers need to understand the customer pressures their agents are facing, and respond with high-performance, easy to use systems. At the same time, they need to minimize complexity and disruptive change for their agents.”
Mercer to offer comparison quotes for annuities
Firms will be able to get instant quotes from insurers on the cost of annuities once pension consultant Mercer Canada’s ambitious new online pricing system goes live.
Mercer is tapping into a growing trend in the US and UK, where shopping around for the best annuity deal is commonplace.
Mercer’s retirement practice head in Canada, Jean-Philippe Provost, said the reluctance of companies with pensions plans to scour the market for better deals is because it is “way too time-consuming, there’s no transparency on the pricing… It’s very difficult the way it’s being presented by the [insurance] carriers - it’s very opaque.”
Canadian companies have estimated pension plan obligations worth $1.4-trillion, according to Mercer, yet a mere $20-billion has been ‘de-risked’ using annuity deals. This mechanism is designed to protect companies from policyholders’ longevity and, in some cases, can transfer pension liabilities to insurers entirely.