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Wildfire claims bill passes $9B; Allstate cat loss; Japan Post eyes Aflac stake

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Wildfire claims bill passes $9B; Allstate cat loss; Japan Post eyes Aflac stake

California's insurance commissioner said yesterday that the state's most recent wildfires are estimated to have generated $9.05 billion of insured losses so far. Over $1.2 billion of claims payments have been made by Allstate Corp. alone, it said as it revealed expected pretax net losses of $670 million from the Camp and Woolsey fires.

Progressive Corp. will end its annual variable dividend policy beginning in 2019 and replace the payouts with regular quarterly dividends on common shares. Also, Chief Investment Officer William Cody will be stepping down in January 2020.

Japan Post Holdings Co. Ltd. is looking to buy 7% to 8% of Aflac Inc. by the end of 2019 and will seek to make the U.S.-based insurer an affiliate four years later, Tokyo's The Nikkei reported, without citing sources. The stake is expected to cost the Japanese company about ¥300 billion, according to the report. Aflac later confirmed that it is in talks with Japan Post over a minority investment through open-market transactions.

French mutual insurer SGAM Covéa will not renew a property catastrophe excess of loss treaty with various syndicates at Lloyd's of London because of its fears that Brexit could negate capital relief for reinsurance contracts written in the U.K., The Insurance Insider reported. Sources told the publication that Covéa had used Lloyd's to write up to 30% of the treaty, which has a €1.6 billion limit.

A report by Allianz Global Corporate & Specialty SE said fire and explosion incidents cause the largest claims for insurers and the businesses they cover. Fires/explosions, aviation incidents, faulty workmanship/maintenance incidents and storms collectively account for more than 50% of all claims by total value.

The New York State Department of Financial Services fined Aetna and Oscar Insurance Co. more than $2.5 million combined for missing required deadlines to consumers.

New York-based EmblemHealth Inc. will pay $250,000 in civil penalties to New York state as part of a settlement that requires the health insurance company to cover gender reassignment surgery for its members. The company will also pay full restitution to members who paid out of pocket for the procedures after denial of coverage.

Universal Insurance Holdings Inc.'s board authorized a new share repurchase program of up to $20 million of its common shares. The insurance holding company may buy back shares under the program through May 31, 2020.

According to the Workers' Compensation Insurance Rating Bureau of California, written premiums in the state for the first nine months totaled $13.1 billion, down 3% from the same period of 2017.

Florida-based Citizens Property Insurance Corp.'s board of directors approved a statewide average increase of 8.2% in the 2019 rates for personal lines policyholders. If the Florida Office of Insurance Regulation approves the recommended rates, it will be effective for new and renewal policies beginning Sept. 1, 2019.

Now featured on S&P Global Market Intelligence

US LTC insurers likely to converge around removal of 'key' morbidity assumption: The results of a study by the Society of Actuaries could determine the extent to which the National Association of Insurance Commissioners permits long-term care writers to incorporate expectations of improved health in their reserving assumptions.

Mortgage insurance could reduce CECL pain: Mortgage insurance could help mitigate some of the lifetime allowances that banks and credit unions will need to assign these long-duration loans at origination, according to one insurer.

Price tag not as high as it appears in insurer's $405M supplemental health deal: Horace Mann is still paying a relative valuation above the historical life-and-health median for high-margin supplemental health insurer National Teachers Associates, but the deal is not the priciest among all recent comparable transactions.

J&J psoriasis drug beats Novartis' in trial; US FDA rejects Mallinckrodt opioid: J&J's Tremfya was more successful than Novartis's Cosentyx in treating the skin disease in a late-stage trial, and Mallinckrodt said the U.S. Food and Drug Administration rejected its application for opioid painkiller Roxicodone.

In other parts of the world

Asia-Pacific: Anbang sells 35% stake in local bank; Bandhan Bank gets nod to open 40 branches

Europe: UK's May wins vote; Unicaja, Liberbank confirm deal talks; GAM sees CHF925M loss

Middle East & Africa: Malaysian lender eyes merger with Al Rajhi unit; Ghana's banks race against time

The day ahead

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

In Asia, the Hang Seng rose 1.29% to 26,524.35, while the Nikkei 225 was up 0.99% to 21,816.19.

In Europe as of midday, the FTSE 100 fell 0.23% to 6,864.05, and the Euronext 100 was down 0.40% to 949.24.

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 jobless claims report, the import and export prices report, the Energy Information Administration natural gas report, the treasury budget report, the U.S. Fed balance sheet and the money supply report are due out today.

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