Wow! What a fantastic view! I used to be stuck way in the back of the book, but now I’m right here on the masthead, where I can see the whole AAB staff and even wave hello to the ad reps!
Switching to the grandstand seat means I have less room to fill here–and more time for rumination at “Agent for Change,” my new blog at www.agent-for-change.com. Blogs not only let editors write about news while it’s still fresh, but allow us to get input from readers to boot. Please drop by and comment early and often!This month’s bit of editorial musical chairs is a taste of what’s coming in September, when AAB gets a much-needed nip and tuck in the form of a graphics redesign. The new format will be more user friendly, easier to read, and feature more graphics, charts and the other visuals that flesh out a story. Don’t worry, we’re not compromising the content–but a little collagen and plumping never hurt anyone, darling.Hello Dolly, goodbye home?At press time, Hurricane Dolly was pummelling the Texas coast–a sure sign that the debate of whether hurricane damage is caused by wind or water will be back on the table.That’s why we’re optimistic about a recent proposal by several top insurers and industry groups to improve affordability and availability of windstorm coverage for coastal homeowners. (To listen to a PodCast on this proposal, visit www.agentandbroker.com.)Spearheaded by Travelers, Nationwide (which recently proposed a combined wind/water coverage form), the Big I and the CIAB, the plan centers on “four pillars”:o Consistent regulation with uniform rules on wind coverage for coastal zones from Texas to Maine, with this portion of the HO policy regulated by an independent federal bodyo Transparency in calculating risk-based, actuarially sound rates using approved standards and wind risk modelso A federal reinsurance mechanism for extreme events, with reinsurance available to insurers at cost to eliminate taxpayer subsidyo Federal guidelines to encourage the building of stronger homes by establishing appropriate building codes and land use planning, and incentives for state and local adoptionAlmost exactly three years after Katrina–whose outcome is still being played out on the Gulf Coast and in current congressional hearings–it’s clear that the coastal coverage issue isn’t going away. Statistically, we’re overdue for the next big hurricane. It would be nice to have a solid plan before that happens.Come to the yard sale!American beer drinkers are wringing their hands about Belgian brewer InBev’s purchase of Anheuser-Busch last month. But the sale shouldn’t come as news in light of the weakened dollar on the global market. The iconic Chrysler Building in Manhattan recently sold to an Abu Dhabi sovereign wealth fund, adding to the list of Middle Eastern-owned U.S. commercial properties, according to Real Capital Analytics Inc.And insurers aren’t immune to the bargain hunting. A recent report by Deloitte states that China and Middle Eastern governments are targeting Western insurance operations in their quest to create world-class financial centers, especially reinsurance and commercial property/casualty businesses.At first glance, these suitors are good news for insurers faced with losses from the collapse of mortgage-sector investments who want to raise some quick capital. Deloitte concludes its report by saying that although such foreign purchases are controversial, insurance companies should consider how they might benefit from such investments.I’d love to hear your thoughts on what you think a foreign buyout of your top p/c companies would mean to agents and brokers. Drop me a line at [email protected] and let’s talk.