Malpractice Crisis, Investments, Autos
Blaming The St. Paul Cos. for Nevada's malpractice crisis, Gov. Kenny Guinn instructed the state's attorney general and insurance commissioner to act against the insurer. In a complaint filed in late May, the state accused St. Paul of engaging in unfair business practices, implementing unlawful policy cancellations and nonrenewals (including failure to return unearned premium payments), and paying commissions to unlicensed agents. St. Paul faces penalties of $5,000 to $10,000 for each offense.
Guinn has also approved upgrades to the state-operated Medical Liability Association of Nevada (MLAN): The fund will now provide all doctors with free tail coverage for incidents that may have occurred under their previous policies but have yet to be reported. In addition, ob/gyns who deliver more than 125 babies a year will no longer pay a higher premium than those who deliver fewer. That number was arbitrary, Guinn explained, and created access problems by discouraging physicians from delivering many babies. (For more about responses to the malpractice crisis, see "Will the states cook up a health care fix?" July 12.)
Standard & Poor's is rolling out a new index to make hedge funds easier to follow. These funds are not required to register with the SEC and so are free to use risky strategies to increase returns. The S&P Hedge Fund Index will track the returns of 40 funds.
Hedge funds returned an average of 1.8 percent through the end of May, compared to a 6.5 percent loss for the S&P 500 Stock Index, according to Van Hedge Fund Advisors International.
Eager investors added $5.6 billion in assets to hedge funds in the first quarter of the year and a record $31 billion in 2001, according to TASS Research, an alternative investment information and research company.
Vehicle safety is improving, says the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. Of 29 current model midsize cars, 17 earned top ratings in crash tests. When the Institute started the test program in 1995, only three of 14 models earned the top mark of "good." The ratings reflect performance in a 40 mph test in which the cars are crashed on the driver's side.
To see detailed results, visit the Institute's Web site at www.highwaysafety.org .
Yvonne Wollenberg. Online News Briefs.