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Business as never before: court decisions in 2004 are changing the way insurers work.

Although legislators and regulators closely govern the business of insurance, actions with the greatest impact on the industry are often delivered by the courts. In 2004, plaintiffs sought rulings on matters ranging from coverage disputes to payment caps to punitive damage awards, and while individual cases may seem isolated, some will influence how insurers do business for years to come.

On the property/casualty side, for example, the World Trade Center insurance litigation has made insurers and brokers acutely aware of the need to document complex transactions carefully.

Following the U.S. Supreme Court's decision in the consolidated cases of Aetna Health Inc. vs. Juan Davila and Cigna Healthcare of Texas Inc. and Cigna Corp. vs. Ruby R. Calad, health insurers can operate knowing that the Employee Retirement Income Security Act pre-empts any state law claims regarding employee benefit plans.

Life insurers are examining their premium disclosure policies as numerous lawsuits regarding modal premiums make their way through the courts.

Looking to 2005, Best's Review selected these and a small group of others as the court cases of 2004 that will have the most significant influence on the insurance industry. Although one criterion for selection was that an initial verdict was reached during the year, the pervasiveness of the charges and investigation launched by New York Attorney General Eliot Spitzer over contingent commissions and allegations of bid rigging demanded that they be included in the listing. They have already begun to reshape the industry.
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Article Details
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Title Annotation:Regulatory/Law
Publication:Best's Review
Article Type:Brief Article
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Jan 1, 2005
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Next Article:Federal trumps state law in HMO disputes.

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