And also...

RSA Irish?Acquisition

RSA has completed the acquisition of Irish firm Benchmark Underwriting. Benchmark specialises in household and commercial lines products including retail, office and property owners risks for small brokers. It has gross assets of €3m (£2.7m) and gross written premiums are about €10m. Philip Smith, RSA Insurance Ireland chief executive, said the acquisition was consistent with its strategy of building “leading positions in targeted segments”.

Ratings downgrade

Warren Buffet’s Berkshire Hathaway has been downgraded to Aa2 from Aaa by ratings agency Moody’s. The rating agency has also downgraded the IFS (insurer financial strength) ratings of Berkshire's other major insurance subsidiaries to Aa1 from Aaa. The rating outlook for all of the subsidiaries is “stable”. Bruce Ballentine, Moody’s lead analyst for Berkshire, said: “The rating actions reflect the impact on Berkshire’s key businesses of the severe decline in equity markets over the past year as well as the protracted economic recession.”

Post Office raises PPI premiums

The Post Office has raised its premiums for payment protection insurance (PPI) and cut cover for mortgage protection. From next month, the maximum monthly cover will fall from £2,500 to £1,500 and the first payment will arrive 90 days after redundancy instead of 30. The £4.50 flat premium per £100 covered for PPI will be replaced by a premium of up to £6.50.

Fraud reaches record

The cost of fraud rose 30% to £730m last year, according to figures due to be released by the ABI after Insurance Times went to press. In 2007, it cost £530m. The figures are expected to show that insurers are detecting a record level in the number and value of fraudulent claims, reaching the highest level since the ABI started collecting the data in 2004.

Chubb appointments

Jeremy Miles has been appointed as Chubb’s new London branch manager. He was previously UK & Ireland CSI manager. The London branch is the third largest branch in the Chubb Corporation. Miles will be responsible for the development of its total portfolio and for overseeing its strategic development. Chubb has also made three new appointments in its personal lines division, promoting Phil Kay and Hayley Palmer to senior underwriters and Krina Patel to senior technical underwriter.