INSURANCE BRIEFS

INSURANCE BRIEFS

CHINA'S CENTRAL BANK

TO SET RULES FOR AGENTS

HONG KONG - China's central bank next month will unveil new regulations for insurance agents in a bid to set professional standards for the industry, the official Xinhua News Agency reported Wednesday.

China's new insurance law went into effect on Oct. 1. But the government wants to lay down rules for agents and agencies, both of which will be required to obtain licenses, a People's Bank of China official said in the report.

In a report earlier this year, the People's Bank pledged to develop national, regional and specialized insurance companies, as well as set up a system of insurance intermediaries.

USDA CHANGING

CROP INSURANCE PROGRAM

WASHINGTON - The U.S. Department of Agriculture announced changes to the federal crop insurance program in an effort to answer some of the concerns producers have had with the one-year-old plan.

U.S. law requires a producer to buy enough insurance to cover catastrophic damage to those crops on which that producer relies most for income. Without such coverage, a producer would not qualify for most USDA program benefits.

USDA said the program would be changed to allow thousands of small farmers to qualify for program benefits without catastrophic crop insurance coverage, and to allow producers to claim prevented planting payments and subsidies under USDA's 0/92 or 50/92 programs for crop year 1996.

Current rules require that producers who cannot plant their crops due to bad weather or natural disaster must choose either prevented planting payments or subsidies, but not both.

OPAL'S TOLL IN GEORGIA

PUT AT UP TO $75 MILLION

ATLANTA - Hurricane Opal was Georgia's third-costliest storm, causing $60 million to $75 million in damage to insured property, an estimate from the industry shows.

Falling trees were responsible for much of the damage, said Bill Davis, executive director of the Georgia Insurance Information Service.

"Mostly it's trees hitting homes, businesses and cars," he said.

The damage from Opal, which blew through northern and western Georgia last week, was exceeded only by the July 1994 floods and the March 1993 blizzard, Mr. Davis said.

Flood damage from heavy rains and damage to public property and utilities were not part of the estimate.

3 CANADIAN INSURERS

INCREASE COVERAGE

TORONTO - Three insurance companies have increased coverage on themselves in a bid to raise consumer confidence in the financial stability of life insurers.

The three small life companies have entered a joint venture to underwrite a term life insurance product, dubbed Shared Risk.

The program provides coverage beyond the $200,000 limit offered by the industry's consumer protection fund, Canadian Life and Health Insurance Compensation Corp. known as CompCorp, in the event of the failure of any of the companies offering it.

The program, a response to consumer worries following the August 1994, collapse of Confederation Life Insurance Co., is jointly underwritten by Assumption Mutual Life Insurance Co. of Moncton, ITT Hartford Life Insurance Co. of Canada, based in Burlington, Ontario, and Survivance Mutual Life Assurance Co. of St. Hyacinthe, Quebec.

OHIO REQUIRES DRIVERS

TO PROVE CAR INSURANCE

COLUMBUS, Ohio - Ohio drivers stopped by police must be able to prove they have car insurance, starting Friday.

For decades, Ohio law has required motorists to have car insurance or some other guarantee that damages will be paid, but the requirement to prove it on the spot is new.

Beginning Friday, those who cannot provide proof of insurance will lose their drivers' licenses for 90 days and must pay a $75 reinstatement fee. That fee rises to $250 and $500 on second and third offenses, and the suspension increases to one year.

Unlike other license suspensions sometimes given by courts, there will be no provision for offenders to continue driving to work, noted Leo Skinner, spokesman for the Ohio Department of Public Safety.

Drivers will have 15 days to produce the proof if they do not have it with them when they are stopped.