Exclusive Insurance Leads


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By insuralead.com in Insurance Leads

Insurer Harleysville Posts 488% Q3 Profit Gains to $24.7 Million


October 29, 2009

Pennsylvania-based insurer Harleysville Group Inc. saw its third-quarter profits climb to $24.7 million, up 488 percent from $4.2 million in the year-ago period.

Revenue at the insurer rose to $244.3 million, up 5 percent from the $232.5 million it reported in the last quarter.

Reduced expenses helped boost the bottom line. For the quarter, expenses were $210.6 million, down 8.3 percent from $229.6 million in the year-ago period. Realized investment gains helped, too. The insurer reported realized investment gains of $2.4 million compared with nearly $29 million in realized investment losses in the third quarter of 2008.

CEO Michael Browne said the quarterly performance was “strong” and the balance sheet “very strong.”

Premiums Down
The company’s third quarter net written premiums fell 8.1 percent to $202.3 million in the quarter, compared to $220.1 million in the year-ago period.

In commercial lines, net written premiums decreased 12.3 percent to $154.3 million. In personal lines, net written premiums increased 8.8 percent to $48.1 million in the third quarter.

The commercial lines statutory combined ratio was 100.1 percent in the third quarter of 2009, versus 100.3 percent in the third quarter of 2008. The personal lines statutory combined ratio was 95.7 percent in the third quarter of 2009, versus 92.2 percent during the third quarter of 2008.

Harleysville Group’s overall statutory combined ratio was 98.9 percent in the third quarter of 2009, compared to 98.8 percent in the comparable period. Catastrophe losses added 0.4 points to the third quarter result in 2009, compared to 1.6 points in 2008.

Browne said the company is “very well positioned” to “manage through these difficult economic times.

“While the insurance marketplace continues to be challenging, we remain committed to retaining our best business, as well as generating responsible, profitable growth. But, we are not going to compromise underwriting quality to chase a near-term growth goal. Instead, we will work closely with our agency partners to remain disciplined — despite current market conditions — as we focus on our goal of producing results that will continue to differentiate us favorably from our competition.”

By insuralead.com in Insurance News

House Healthcare Bill Has Public Option, Individual Mandate, Surtax


House Healthcare Bill Has Public Option, Individual Mandate, Surtax
By John Whitesides and Donna Smith
October 29, 2009

Democrats in the House finished work Wednesday on a healthcare bill that includes a government-run insurance plan, requires individuals to buy health coverage and imposes a surtax on the wealthy to help pay for it.

The measure, the product of weeks of closed-door talks to merge three pending health bills, will be unveiled by party leaders Thursday and submitted to the full House for debate as early as next week.

The bill includes a government-run “public” insurance option that uses reimbursement rates negotiated with healthcare providers, Democrats said, a setback for House liberals led by Speaker Nancy Pelosi who favored a more “robust” version to compete with private insurers.

Pelosi failed to gain the 218 votes needed to pass a version of the government-run plan using lower rates pegged to Medicare, the health plan for the elderly.

The healthcare measure being prepared for debate in the Senate also includes a public insurance option based on negotiated reimbursement rates but, unlike the House bill, it would allow states to decline to participate.

The House’s version of a sweeping healthcare overhaul, President Barack Obama’s top domestic priority, would require individuals to buy insurance and all but the smallest employers to offer health coverage to workers, Democrats said.

It would offer subsidies to help the uninsured buy insurance through newly created exchanges and would expand eligibility for the Medicaid program to those with incomes up to 150 percent of the poverty level.

The House bill includes a 5.4 percent surtax on individuals making more than $500,000 and couples earning more than $1 million, which an aide said would bring in about $460 billion over 10 years to help pay for covering the uninsured.

The House bill does not include a tax on high-cost ”Cadillac” insurance plans that is included in the Senate bill. House Democrats have strongly opposed that approach, which has drawn criticism from labor unions that fear it will hurt too many middle-income workers.

Obama has sought a health bill that reins in costs, regulates insurers and expands coverage to millions of the uninsured. The House bill includes restrictions to keep insurers from declining to cover those with pre-existing conditions or dropping the sick.

Democrats who attended a meeting with Pelosi said they were told congressional budget analysts had estimated the bill would cost less than Obama’s target of $900 billion.

The House bill includes about $20 billion in fees over 10 years for medical device manufacturers, an aide said.

It will phase in penalties for businesses that fail to provide insurance, starting at 2 percent for firms with a payroll of $500,000 and ending at 8 percent for businesses with a payroll of $750,000 or more, the aide said.

The battle over a government-run insurance plan has become a flashpoint in the debate over the healthcare overhaul. Obama and liberals believe the option would create more choice for consumers.

Critics say the public option, which would compete with private plans on state-based exchanges where individuals could shop for insurance, would lead to a government takeover of the sector.

The House bill still faces a potential uprising by liberals who had pushed hard for a public option tied to Medicare rates. Rural Democrats had opposed that approach, fearing it would hurt small hospitals.

“We think we’ll have the votes,” for the negotiated rates, said George Miller, chairman of the House Education and Labor Committee.

Democratic leaders also face possible opposition from a group of about 40 House Democrats who want to strengthen the bill’s language to ensure no federal funds would be used for abortions.

Democratic Representative Marion Berry of Arkansas said he was undecided if he would support the measure because he was concerned about how it would be paid for and he wanted to see more money taken from the drugmakers and insurance industry.

“If they aren’t squealing to the high heavens, we haven’t hit them hard enough,” he told reporters.

(Editing by Eric Walsh)

Copyright 2009 Reuters. Click for Restrictions.

By insuralead.com in Insurance News