Travelers said its profit in the fourth quarter of 2019 rose 41% year-over-year to $873 million, but the insurer warned that challenges could lie ahead because of "social inflation," the expectation of higher court awards and settlements. "We continue to believe that social inflation is an environmental issue driven primarily by a more aggressive plaintiffs' bar," Travelers CEO Alan Schnitzer said.
A federal judge has sentenced John Kapoor, the founder of Insys Therapeutics, to five years and six months in prison plus three years of supervised release for his role in a conspiracy to bribe doctors to overprescribe the fentanyl-based painkiller Subsys. The judge also ordered Kapoor to pay a $250,000 fine.
Uber-operated autonomous vehicles are scheduled to be on the streets of Washington, D.C., today. Human drivers will be controlling the vehicles during the testing as Uber gathers data to guide future deployment, the company said.
Insured catastrophe losses were around $53 billion worldwide in 2019, about 18% below the yearly average since 2011, Willis Towers Watson said. "The year will come as a relative relief to reinsurers, following the extremely costly events of 2017 and 2018," but it also brought "the strongest-ever landfalling hurricane in the Atlantic, Hurricane Dorian," said Vaughn Jensen of Willis Re.
The City Council of Austin, Texas, has approved an ordinance requesting that police no longer cite and arrest people for possession of small amounts of marijuana in cases unlikely to face prosecution. The council also has voted to refrain from funding marijuana testing except in major felony cases.
Using a handheld mobile electronic device while driving would be banned in Idaho under legislation introduced in the state Senate. Meanwhile, a similar bill in the state House would include eating and grooming among activities deemed to be distractions while driving.
All of the major Democratic presidential candidates have proposed ways to address paying for long-term care. Among their ideas are tax credits for caregivers, a public long-term-care insurance program and a home care benefit included in a Medicare for All plan.
The National Association of Insurance Commissioners is scheduled to meet on Feb. 13 and may vote on the final version of its revised annuity sales rules. If the rules are approved, they will be sent to the states so they can consider enacting them as law.
Long-term-care insurers paid out $11 billion in benefits in 2019, a 6.8% increase over 2018, according to a report from the American Association for Long-term Care Insurance. The group reports that about 7.5 million people have either a standalone long-term-care policy or a hybrid policy.
APCIA's David Sampson, speaking at a recent Insurance Information Institute event, said legal defense and reform issues and "bending the trend line on social inflation" represent a "macro strategic challenge for the industry in 2020." Publicly traded companies' quarterly earnings reports in 2019 frequently addressed "the terrible impact that runaway litigation is having on the industry," he said.