INSURANCE BRIEFS

INSURANCE BRIEFS

S&P AFFIRMS RATINGS

FOR CIGNA CORP.Standard & Poor's affirmed its debt and claim-paying ability ratings on Cigna Corp. in the wake of the company's announcement Monday that it would restructure.

Ratings affirmed are Cigna's "A-2" commercial paper rating, its "BBB+" long-term debt rating and "BBB" subordinated debt rating.

Also remaining the same is the "AA" claims-paying ability rating, its third highest, on Cigna subsidiary Connecticut General Life Insurance Co.

Cigna said Monday it will restructure and recapitalize its property/ casualty operations in conjunction with setting aside $1.2 billion to increase its asbestos and environmental (A&E) reserves.

S&P said Cigna's plan, which includes walling off its A&E business into one subsidiary company, "will reduce the uncertainty in the business position and prospects of these operations by recognizing a substantial portion of their previously unreserved A&E exposure."

SEDGWICK JAMES FORMS

PACT WITH USA RISK

NEW YORK - Sedgwick James Inc., the American unit of worldwide broker Sedgwick Group PLC, has agreed in principle that USA Risk Group will provide administrative and other services for the U.S.-based captive insurers owned by Sedgwick clients.

Sedgwick Management Services (U.S.) Ltd., the Sedgwick subsidiary that had been offering those services, will continue as a licensed captive manager, said Jane Hill Fleming, director of risk services and senior vice president with Sedgwick James Inc.

In addition, the Sedgwick unit's employees based in Vermont and Hawaii will become employees of USA Risk Group, she said.

''The agreement will give Sedgwick full access to our resources and will give us additional business and highly skilled employees to service this growing specialized sector of the alternative insurance marketplace," said H. Lincoln Miller Jr., chairman and president of USA Risk Group.

COLORADO BLUE CROSS

DROPS 300 SPECIALISTS

DENVER - About 300 specialized physicians have been notified they are being cut from Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Colorado's HMO program.

Beginning Jan. 1, some 319 specialists at several hospitals will no longer be part of HMO Colorado.

Blue Cross said it is revamping its health plans product offerings and putting them under the BlueAdvantage banner. The move is aimed at cutting costs and increasing focus on primary care.

The Blues will reduce its panel of specialists from about 2,400 to 2,100. At the same time, HMO Colorado will raise the number of primary care doctors in the metro area from 400 to 750.

MARYLAND CHIEF PROMISES

BLUE CROSS PLAN REVIEW

ANNAPOLIS, Md. - Members of a Senate committee concerned about who will profit from a proposed reorganization of Blue Cross have a promise from the insurance commissioner he will not rush through to approve the plan.

Commissioner Dwight Bartlett told a Finance Committee hearing he will not sign off on a reorganization plan until the General Assembly has time to review it and decide whether it meets the approval of lawmakers.

Sen. Thomas Bromwell, D-Baltimore County, questioned Mr. Bartlett and Blue Cross officials about who would get the profit if Blue Cross is allowed to sell stock in a profit-making company.

Blue Cross wants to split into two parts - the traditional nonprofit insurance plan and a for-profit side that would operate managed care plans and could sell stock.

NEWFOUNDLAND INSURERS

MULL NO-FAULT OPTIONS

ST. JOHN'S, Newfoundland - Automobile insurers in Newfoundland are striving at a meeting here this week to reach a consensus on a proposed no- fault insurance law.

A legislature select committee is scrutinizing whether no-fault would produce better value than the current tort system.

"For the most part, no-fault systems mean taking away the right to sue and replacing that with a schedule of weekly benefits," said Don Forgeron, vice president of the Atlantic region of the Insurance Bureau of Canada.

The underwriters are hoping to make their position known early next year, before the panel reports to the Legislature in June.