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GBV: Please tell us about your appointment as Chairman of WBN, what does this entail? Jim Watt: I am going to be assuming the chairmanship of Worldwide Broker Network in April of this year (2018) and I’m excited about the opportunity because I really believe in the network and in the global aspects of business commerce.

The inaugural meeting of the Cross-Border Benefits Alliance (CBBA) on December 6 could be described as a classic meeting of the minds, featuring such authorities as the European Insurance and Occupational Pensions Authority (EIOPA) and other private and public-sector organizations coming together to promote cross border pensions as well as find a way to address the legislative and judicial issues that surround them.

Duty of Care is a generally accepted principle in many countries around the world. It’s an important factor in building trust and reinforcing commitment toward employees, and in some countries, it’s enshrined in legislation. An employer can be deemed to have breached its duty of care if it fails to do everything reasonable to keep employees safe from harm.

The current 2017-18 flu season is a bad one. Hospitalization rates are now higher than in recent years at the same point, and infection rates are still rising. The best line of defense is the seasonal influenza vaccine. But H3N2 viruses, like the one that’s infecting many people this year, are particularly hard to defend against, and this year’s shot isn’t very protective against H3N2.

Middle East countries are making fast-paced regulatory reforms to the health insurance industry for half a decade, and healthcare sectors and insurance industries have seen a surge in mergers and acquisitions activity.

GBV: Let’s start our discussion with the highlights of your career, and your focus on global pensions. Thierry Verkest: Aon is the leading global professional services firm providing risk, retirement, and health solutions. I am based in Brussels; I’ve always worked in Belgium, and for more than 25 years I’ve helped international organizations manage the design and financing of their pension funds. We have offices all over the world

Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance Company’s (MassMutual) international insurance holding company MassMutual International in March 2018 sold 85% of its wholly owned subsidiary MassMutual Japan to Nippon Life. MassMutual Japan, formerly known as Heiwa Life, was acquired by MassMutual in 2001. MassMutual will receive approximately USD 935 million in cash (JPY 104 billion) and retain approximately 15 percent ownership in MassMutual Japan. The transaction is expected to close in the first

Global insurance brokerage Hub International in March 2018 announced that it has acquired the shares of GMS Insurance. Based in Kitchener, Ontario (Canada), GMS Insurance is an independent benefit consulting firm that services clients in Southwestern Ontario and the greater Toronto area. GMS’s consultants address companies ranging from small start-ups to large national or international corporations. GMS Insurance will join Hub Ontario and Jonathan Shantz, President of GMS Insurance,

Generali Global Assistance in February 2018 published a white paper titled The Impact of Cybersecurity Incidents on Financial Institutions, which provides financial organizations with information on today’s cyber and identity threat landscape, the potential impact on those threats, and existing solutions that can mitigate risks and fallout from these threats. Financial institutions, including banks, credit unions, and credit card companies were among the most impacted in 2017, which was

The Pacific Research Institute in February 2018 released a study, Breaking Down Barriers, that examines the economic impact of duplicative licensing regulations for independent claims adjusters and underscores the need for increased licensing reciprocity among U.S. states. According to the study, the average claims adjuster holds between ten and twelve different state licenses, which can cost as much as $1,000 each. These burdensome requirements make it more difficult for

A new ESIS whitepaper published in February 2018, Why Employers Should Consider Integrated Medical Programs to Manage Workers Compensation Costs explores how companies may reduce their workers compensation medical costs by implementing a centralized approach to claims management while ensuring optimal claims outcomes. ESIS, a wholly owned subsidiary of property and casualty (P&C) insurer Chubb, provides claim and risk management services to commercial clients. According to ESIS, with medical

Men and women of all age groups have been visiting YouCanPlanForThis.org, a free website launched in September 2017 by independent nonprofit FAIR Health that enables New York State residents to plan their healthcare costs. The site offers cost lookup tools, powered by FAIR Health’s billions of private healthcare claims records, that allow consumers to estimate in-network and out of-network costs for thousands of medical procedures in their geographic areas,

Defined benefit (DB) pension plans’ inevitable demise is a long-held truth. Or is it? RBC Investor & Treasury Services in February 2018 revealed that Canadian defined benefit pension plans ended 2017 in positive territory, posting an annual return of 9.7 percent. In addition, a recent RBC Investor & Treasury Services poll of Canadian defined benefit pension plan sponsors showed their median funded status stands at 96 percent. The poll,

Insurer – Country of Destination – Date Announced – Source MS Amlin – Brussels – 28 June 2017 – Press release Lloyd’s of London – Brussels – QBE – Brussels – CNA Hardy – Luxembourg – RSA – Luxembourg – AIG – Luxembourg – FM Global – Luxembourg – Hiscox – Luxembourg – Liberty Mutual, Special Markets – Luxembourg – Admiral – Dublin – Beazley – Dublin – Chesnara –

75 percent of U.S. employees believe their health plan has never alerted them to a health risk, according to the HealthMine 2018 Rising Risk Survey that underscores the challenges health care plans face when educating members about potential health risks and when motivating them to take action to prevent becoming ill. Bryce Williams, President and CEO of HealthMine, pointed out that 86 percent of the US$2.7 trillion annual health

Global insurance brokerage Hub International in February 2018 announced that it has acquired the shares of Pointbreak Consulting Group. Headquartered in Burnaby, British Columbia – Canada, Pointbreak provides employee benefits and pension consulting services. Kevin Jeffrey, Principal and CEO of Pointbreak, will join Hub TOS and report to Dave Terry, President of Hub TOS. Terms of the acquisition were not disclosed.

New Zealand’s prudential supervisor, the Reserve Bank of New Zealand, has placed CBL Insurance under “interim liquidation”. CBL is a P/C insurer specializing in credit surety and financial risk, such as builders risks, sureties, guarantees and contractor bonds. It operates worldwide and in particular in Europe and Scandinavia through an Irish subsidiary, CBL Insurance Europe Designated Activity Company (DAC). It does not underwrite employee benefits or workers’ compensation; HR

Wendy Stachowiak, Vice President of Global Travel Partnerships at International SOS, in January 2018 was appointed Vice Chair of the Global Business Travel Association (GBTA) Risk Committee. As organizations recognize the impact that travel risks can have on business continuity and sustainability, as well as the effect on an individual, GBTA President Christle Johnson, commented: “We are pleased that Wendy has accepted the role of Vice Chair of the

China’s insurance regulator, the China Insurance Regulatory Commission (CIRC), in February 2018 “temporarily” took over Anbang Insurance Group. Its chairman Wu Xiaohui in June 2017 was detained by authorities and is now facing prosecution on charges including fundraising fraud and embezzlement. Anbang’s growth was driven by high-yield, investment-type insurance products, many of which allowed redemption after as little as two years with little or no penalties. The growth helped fund

IBIS Academy organizer Gallagher in February 2018 announced two key sessions for the 48th edition, to be held in Berlin, Germany on May 7 – 11 , 2018. Global Family Leave Fred Thiele, general manager, global benefits and mobility for Microsoft, will discuss Microsoft’s “monumental effort to expand and enhance its global family leave benefits”. Fred will offer practical advice for organizations interested in leading the way in this

Arthur J. Gallagher in February 2018 acquired Sioux Falls, South Dakota-based Williams Insurance Agency. Founded in 1967, Williams Insurance Agency offers property/casualty, life, health and voluntary benefits coverages to businesses and individuals primarily across South Dakota. Greg Heineman, Timothy Donohue, Dwight Vondra and their associates will continue to operate from their current location. They will report to Patrick M. Gallagher, head of Gallagher’s Midwest retail property/casualty brokerage operations, and

The Transamerica Center for Health Studies (TCHS), together with the Interdisciplinary Center for Healthy Workplaces (ICHW) at UC Berkeley, in February 2018 released their guide, Finding Fit: Implementing Workplace Wellness Programs Successfully, which is a helpful resource for organizations offering wellness programs for their employees. The employer guide features an emphasis on small and medium organizations and focuses on the types of wellness programs that have been shown to

Global insurance brokerage Hub International (Hub) in February 2018 announced that it has acquired the shares of Kindersley Insurance. Headquartered in Kindersley, Saskatchewan (Canada), with an office in Dodsland, Kindersley Insurance Ltd. is a full-service, independent personal and commercial insurance brokerage that specializes in insurance solutions for the agriculture, oil field and trucking industries. Principals Mark Stockford and Barry Andrew will join Hub Manitoba and report to Doug Trapp,

Pricewaterhouse Cooper (PwC) in February 2018 released a report, What will Work Look Like in 2030?  that takes a look at the future of the workplace. The report asks the reader to imagine ‘four radically different scenarios for how companies will manage people and how people will manage their work and careers. Authors Jeff Hesse and Scott Olsen write, ‘We are living through a fundamental transformation in the way

Generali Global Assistance (GGA) in February 2018 announced that it has implemented its proprietary identity and digital protection platform for Deposits.com, which is now able to offer its customers 360° identity protection services including prevention, monitoring, alerts and resolution tools. Deposits.com is a multi-platform financial directory and secure, online portal that connects financial institutions with consumers looking to open financial accounts, take out a mortgage or loan, find a

European Union (E.U.) Directive 2016/97, which regulates the distribution of insurance products and is intended to strengthen consumer protection, in February 2018 was postponed by a few months. The deadline for implementation, initially set to February 23, 2018, is now pushed back to October 2018. The deadline for transposition into national laws by E.U. Member States is extended to July 1, while the deadline for application is now October

Alera Group, a U.S. employee benefits, property/casualty, risk management and wealth management firm, in February 2018 announced that they have acquired three more firms, bringing the grand total of their acquisitions since their January 2017 launch to 20. The February 1, 2018 transaction includes Aisling Partners Insurance Brokerage of Worcester, Massachusetts; Davidson Benefits Planning (DBP) of Tigard, Oregon; and HR Benefits Advisors headquartered in Rochester, New York. Aisling is