Debt rating service on net
Credit insurer Groupe Coface has launched a global trade debt rating service on the web. Called @rating, it offers an immediate evaluation of the risks associated with the non-payment of trade debt through the use of a simple credit rating. But users of the rating information will also be able to buy a credit insurance policy at the same time. There are five classifications of ratings for companies, wherever they have access to the web.

Flood response cover alliance
Two disaster recovery firms, ActionDry and Document SOS, have formed SOS ActionStation to provide flood response cover for the London area. ActionDry specialises in damage limitation and Document SOS concerns itself with paper salvage. Companies pay £100 membership and receive priority treatment in the event of a local disaster.

IIL hosts carol service in City
The Insurance Institute of London is holding a carol service at St Peter-Upon-Cornhill tonight (Thursday) at 5.45pm. The Lloyd's Choir will provide vocal support; mince pies and wine will be served at around 6.40pm.

Payouts rise for Equitas
Equitas paid out £1.25 billion in claims in the six months to September 30 compared with £1.01bn for the same period last year. The reinsurance vehicle is paying out on vast liabilities, which threatened to overwhelm Lloyd's of London.

Edinburgh to be BIBA venue
BIBA has announced that Edinburgh will be the venue for its 2000 conference around the theme of "Building a New Profession". The conference has secured £250,000 worth of sponsorship, principally from Axa Insurance, Lloyd's, CGU Insurance, Norwich Union and Royal & SunAlliance.

Michael opens Marsh office
Labour MP Alun Michael, First Secretary to the National Assembly for Wales, opened the new Marsh office in Cardiff last week. During the ceremony he claimed the firm for Wales and said it would be an important addition to the Welsh economy.

Millennium bug claims warning
Y2K-related claims will not be as easily dodged as may have been thought, according to New York actuaries Milliman & Robertson. The firm said US insurers alone could spend up to $10 billion in the next ten years in legal costs over disputed cases alone.

VBRA helpline for motorists
The Vehicle Builders and Repairers Association is to launch a 24-hour helpline service to assist both motorists and its membership. Members and motorists can dial a dedicated 0800 number from anywhere in the UK and be provided with the support and assistance they need.

Brokers 'must trade on net'
Broker Direct is warning brokers that they need to be trading on the internet by the end of next year or risk being left behind. Broker Direct general director Roy Green said: "This means having a web site that can do business, collect payment and service policies." Green also warned brokers to register domain names early before unscrupulous entrepreneurs beat them to it.

Brit reports £2.4m profit
Brit Insurance Holdings, parent of recently acquired Wren and Brit Insurance, has seen its balance sheet move into a healthier position during this trading year. Pre-tax losses of almost £4 million for the six months to September 30 last year were transformed into a £2.37m pre-tax profit for the same trading period this year. Chief executive Neil Eckert said there were "some grounds for optimism" that the market had made a turn for the better.

Aon buys VMAM from Velo
Aon Risk Services has bought out the remaining 50% of accident management provider Velo Motor Accident Management (VMAM) from joint venture partner Velo. Aon is to add VMAM to its managed services division as a wholly-owned subsidiary. Velo's decision to sell follows a change in ownership of the firm. "With the full weight of Aon's market-leading risk management skills behind it, we expect considerable growth for VMAM as it consolidates its position in existing markets and breaks into new ones," said the managing director of Aon's managed services division, Allan Gribben. "We remain committed to bringing a broad claims and loss service offering to the market."

Alexander Forbes buys Fleming PI
Alexander Forbes Risk Services (UK) has acquired the professional indemnity book from Robert Fleming Insurance Brokers for an undisclosed sum.

HSBC puts out weather guide
HSBC has launched a new "check" guide for consumers to minimise weather-related claims. The guide is free and available from branches or by phoning 0870 240 2292.

JLT's gruelling keep fit regime
Anyone planning to get fit for 2000 might be interested in signing up for the Jardine Lloyd Thompson Cumbria Challenge 2000 to raise money for guide dogs. Participating teams must walk a mountain ridge, canoe across a lake, traverse a peak and conclude with a 23-mile mountain bike ride in just 14 hours. It is the second year that JLT has sponsored the event.

Heath moves into Hungary
The Heath Group is expanding its international insurance and reinsurance network into Hungary, through a new joint venture. The strategic partnership with Hungarian broker Potter Brokers will cover a range of insurance business classes, including property, casualty, construction, corporate retail and reinsurance, providing a variety of insurance solutions for clients. Based in Budapest, it will be known as Heath Hungary. Heath plans to merge with Lambert Fenchurch Group, which will create the sixth largest insurance broker in the world.