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UnitedHealth welcomes Medicare EO; Saddle Ridge Fire origin; Molina in $40M deal

A recently signed executive order promoting Medicare Advantage stands to benefit UnitedHealth Group Inc., according to company leaders. Brian Thompson, CEO of UnitedHealthcare Medicare & Retirement, during a third-quarter earnings call said some of the elements of the order, which include pushing for greater access to Medicare Advantage and accelerating payment for covered prescriptions, are ideas that the insurer has historically favored.

The cause of the Saddle Ridge Fire in Southern California remains under active investigation, but the area of origin has been identified by Los Angeles Fire Department arson investigators as being below a high-voltage transmission tower. According to an evening update on Oct. 15, 19 structures have been destroyed, while 88 structures were damaged.

Molina Healthcare Inc. has agreed to acquire certain assets of YourCare Health Plan Inc., a not-for-profit subsidiary of Monroe Plan for Medical Care, for approximately $40 million. As a part of the transaction, Molina will assume the right to serve approximately 46,000 Medicaid members in seven counties in the Western New York and Finger Lakes regions.

All stakeholders in malpractice liability are "under pressure" after a growing number of large medical malpractice verdicts following years of premium decreases, a report by Aon PLC and the American Society for Health Care Risk Management stated. While self-insured layers continue to see "modest" annual trends, the frequency and average severity of losses greater than $5 million continues to rise, the report added.

Abry Partners LLC is coordinating with an investment bank to divest its majority stake in insurance broker Hilb Group LLC, Reuters reported, citing sources familiar with the matter. The deal would value Hilb Group at over $1 billion, including debt.

Axa SA is planning to off-load its businesses in Poland, the Czech Republic and Slovakia in a deal that could be worth between €400 million and €800 million, Reuters reported. The French insurer reportedly sent information packs to potential investors, including PZU SA, Generali and Allianz Group, related to the planned sale.

Everest Re Group Ltd. expects to record $280 million in pretax catastrophe losses, net of reinsurance recoveries and reinstatement premiums, for the third quarter. The estimate includes third-quarter losses from Hurricane Dorian and Typhoon Faxai, but excludes losses from Typhoon Hagibis.

RenaissanceRe Holdings Ltd. is expecting that losses from catastrophe events will have a net negative impact of roughly $155 million on its third-quarter results. FedNat Holding Co. estimates that catastrophe losses incurred during the third quarter will reduce its quarterly pretax income by $7.0 million as of Oct. 15.

A new reinsurance trading platform being sponsored by the Blockchain Insurance Industry Initiative is "a means to an end" rather than the goal itself, according to the head of the industry-backed project. The initiative, known as B3i, launched the production version of its property catastrophe excess-of-loss placement platform Oct. 15.

Generali Chairman Gabriele Galateri di Genola presented the Italian insurer's results as evidence that the company is well run and enjoys shareholder support, Reuters reported. Generali's biggest shareholder, Italian investment bank Mediobanca, has faced criticism of its strategy from one of its investors, who has blamed both companies' CEOs for what he says is Generali's poor share price performance.

Newly rebranded insurtech Thimble raised $22 million in a series A funding round led by IAC. The insurtech, which was known as Verifly, offers on-demand short-term liability coverage for small businesses and independent workers, with policies underwritten by Markel Corp.

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Pricing tailwinds contributed to PE firm's $750M Convex investment: Onex is one of two entities that agreed to invest $750 million each in the new international specialty insurer and reinsurer led by Stephen Catlin that bills itself as the "insurance company of the future."

Analysts detail health reform options as Democratic candidates push their plans: The authors of a new report said their analysis was intended to stand as a guidepost for comparing the coverage and cost implications of the various health reform proposals and would help Americans make more objective, thoughtful comparisons.

In other parts of the world

Asia-Pacific: China opens up banking, insurance sectors; Latitude IPO falls through

Europe: Wirecard faces heat; US charges Halkbank over sanctions; German bank raided

Middle East & Africa: Dubai Islamic Bank, Bank Muscat post profits; Wafa Insurance CEO steps down

The day ahead

Early morning futures indicators pointed to a lower opening for the U.S. market.

In Asia, the Hang Seng increased 0.61% to 26,664.28, and the Nikkei 225 went up 1.20% to 22,472.92.

In Europe, around midday, the FTSE 100 lost 0.12% to 7,201.94, and the Euronext 100 was essentially flat at 1,100.88.

Click here to read about today's financial markets, setting out the factors driving stocks, bonds and currencies around the world ahead of the New York open.

On the macro front

The retail sales report, the Atlanta Fed business inflation expectations report, the business inventories report, the housing market index, the Beige Book and the Treasury international capital report are due out today.

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