INSURANCE BRIEFS

INSURANCE BRIEFS

S&P, MOODY'S PLACE

BERKLEY UNDER REVIEW

NEW YORK - Standard & Poor's has placed the senior debt and preferred stock ratings of W.R. Berkley Corp. under review with negative implications.

Moody's Investors Service also said it will review Berkley's ratings for possible downgrade. Moody's said approximately $400 million in securities would be affected.

Involved are S&P's "A+" senior debt and "A-" preferred stock ratings, and Moody's "A3" senior unsecured debt and medium-term notes and its "a3" cumulative preferred stock rating.

The reviews are prompted by the company's announcement Tuesday that it planned to buy General Reinsurance Corp. (Gen Re) out of its 40 percent stake in Signet Star Holdings, a reinsurer that is currently a joint venture of Gen Re and W.R. Berkley. The transaction will make Berkley as the sole owner of Signet Star.

Berkley is a holding company for a property/casualty underwriter.

DISASTER RISK EXCHANGE

LICENSED IN NEW YORK

NEW YORK - The New York Insurance Dept. has licensed the Catastrophe Risk Exchange Inc. (Catex) to operate in New York. The nationwide exchange plans to set up its office in New York City and be operating this fall.

Catex, the idea of former New Jersey Insurance Commissioner Samuel Fortunato, is designed to help insurers spread their catastrophe-related risks by creating a marketplace for swapping the risks.

That means an insurer of properties in coastal areas of New York can trade exposures with other insurers writing different catastrophic risks such as earthquake coverage in California.

Edward J. Muhl, New York's insurance superintendent, said Catex will encourage insurers that have been reluctant to write homeowners' coverage in coastal areas on Long Island to re-enter the marketplace.

PRUDENTIAL EUROBONDS

RECEIVE 'AA+' RATING

LONDON - Standard and Poor's has assigned its "AA+" long-term credit rating to Prudential Corp. PLC's $250 million 7.125 percent senior unsecured Eurobonds maturing on Aug. 16, 2005.

The credit rating company says the rating is based on the Prudential's continuing superior position in the U.K. life and pensions market, its excellent capital strength and interest coverage and its increasing diversification of earnings to the United States and Far Eastern markets.

Operating performance remains strong despite some deterioration in 1994 as a result of difficult conditions in the U.K. life and pensions market generally. The company intends to use the proceeds of the new debt issue to pay off a large proportion of its current commercial paper, more conventional, borrowings.

ROEHRIG, FLOOD MERGES

WITH POE SUBSIDIARY

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. - Roehrig, Flood & Associates Inc., a broker, has merged with MacDuff Pinellas Underwriters Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of MacDuff Underwriters Inc., which in turn is a wholly owned subsidiary of Poe & Brown Inc.

The transaction was effective July 1.

Roehrig, Flood & Associates is an intermediary, broker and wholesaler for specialized excess and surplus lines insurance companies. Like MacDuff Underwriters, it specializes in placing difficult coverage situations and acts as a managing general agent for select programs.

Both MacDuff Underwriters Inc., and MacDuff Pinellas Underwriters Inc., are doing business as Roehrig-MacDuff Underwriters.

Poe & Brown Inc. is a general insurance agency headquartered in Daytona Beach.

SCHOOL FINDS INSURER

TO REPLACE ITT HARTFORD

BENTON, La. - The Bossier Parish School Board has changed its property insurance carrier after being dropped by ITT Hartford Insurance Co.

Sue Honeyman, a spokeswoman for ITT Hartford, said the policy was not renewed because of a "loss of reinsurance for this account," and not because of a $2 million insurance claim filed earlier this year. She could not identify which companies provided the reinsurance.

The board's new carrier will be Royal Indemnity Co., Charlotte, N.C.

Johanna Loftin, purchasing agent for Bossier schools, said the high claim was due to hail damage at about 10 schools.