Pending Home Sales Dip 1.0 Percent in February

(Washington, WA – Insurance News 360) – On March 28, the National Association of Realtors announced that pending home sales dropped by one percent during the month of February.

The forward-looking Pending Home Sales Index dropped from 102.9 in January to 101.9 in February, marking the 14th straight month of annual decreases, as year-over-year contract signings dropped 4.9 percent.

“In January, pending contracts were up close to 5 percent, so this month’s 1 percent drop is not a significant concern,” said Lawrence Yun, NAR Chief Economist. “As a whole, these numbers indicate that a cyclical low in sales is in the past but activity is not matching the frenzied pace of last spring.”

Although there has been growth in the West region, current sales are well below where they were in 2018. He attributes this to a lack of inventory and prices that have risen too quickly.

Denver-Aurora-Lakewood, Colo., Seattle-Tacoma-Bellevue, Wash., San Diego-Carlsbad, Calif., Portland-Vancouver-Hillsboro, Ore.-Wash., and Nashville-Davidson-Murfreesboro-Franklin, Tenn., saw the largest increase in active listings in February compared to a year ago.

“If there is a change at all [in interest rates], I would say the Fed will lower interest rates in 2019 or 2020. That would stimulate the economy and the housing market,” he said. “But the expectation is no change at all in the current monetary policy, which will help mortgage rates stay at attractive levels.”

Yun expects existing home sales to decline to 5.3 million, while the national median existing home price is expected to increase by 2.7 percent.

In the Northeast the Pending Home Sales Index declined 0.8 percent to 92.1, and is now 2.6 percent lower than it was in 2018. In the Midwest the PHSI dropped 7.2 percent and is 6.1 percent lower than February 2018.

Unlike the regions already mentioned pending homes sales in the South and in the West experienced increases. In the southern region, the index crept up 1.7 percent to 121.8, although this is still 2.9 percent lower than February 2018. In the west, the index increased by .5 percent, but is 9.6 percent below February 2018.

Source: National Association of Realtors®

Lloyds reports 2018 aggregated market results

(London – Insurance News 360) – On March 27, Lloyd’s released the 2018 annual report, which announced an aggregated market loss of 1.0bn for 2018, which is half of what the aggregated market loss was in 2017.

Other key figures to note are:

  • An increase of £1.9bn in gross written premiums in 2018 (£35.5bn in 2018, compared to £33.6bn in 2017)
  • A reduction of net incurred claims in 2018: £16.4bn compared to £18.3bn in 2017
  • A reduction of net investment return in 2018: £0.5bn compared to 1.8bn in 2017

Several natural disasters in 2018, including Hurricane Florence and Hurricane Michael, Typhoon Jebi in Japan and California’s wildfires led to major claims that cost the Lloyd’s market £2.9bn. This is significantly higher than the long term average of £1.9bn. This contributed to a combined ratio of 104.5% in 2018.

In spite of substantial claims, Lloyd’s is in a stronger financial position. The company added 9% to its total assets, bringing that figure to £118.0bn. Lloyd’s net resources increased to £28.2bn. Lloyd’s central assets also saw growth to £3.2bn.

A rigorous business planning process for 2019 removed almost £3.0bn of poorly performing business from the market and remediation plans were implemented across all review classes of business. Four new syndicates started trading in 2018 demonstrating Lloyd’s enduring appeal and the market’s continuous focus on innovation.

Lloyd’s is also ready for Brexit through its new Brussels subsidiary, which is fully operational and writing risks. This provides certainty for our customers in the European Economic Area (EEA) that they can continue to access Lloyd’s insurance products, services and expertise. The market also made good progress on modernization in 2018, evidenced by a substantial increase in adoption of technology solutions, including electronic placement.

“The market’s aggregated 2018 results report a combined ratio of 104.5%, and a £1.0bn loss. This performance is not of the standard that we would expect of a market that has both the heritage and quality of Lloyd’s. We have implemented stronger performance management measures which will remain an enduring feature of how we go about our business. We expect these actions to deliver progressive performance improvement across the market beginning in 2019 and in the years to come,” said John Neal, Lloyd’s Chief Executive Officer.  “We are determined to show decisive leadership across three fronts: to address the performance gap; to secure Lloyd’s future success; and, following our announcement yesterday, to tackle all forms of inappropriate behavior with robust actions to create a more inclusive working environment.”

Source: LLOYD’S

Lloyds of London commits to creation of safe, inclusive work environment.

(London – Insurance News 360) – On March 26, executives at Lloyds announced a robust plan of action to handle reports of sexual harassment in the market and create an inclusive working environment where employees feel safe.

Working with the Lloyds Market Association, and the London and International Insurance Brokers Association, the Lloyd’s Board and Council developed the wide ranging plan, which includes the following:

  • Provision of an independently managed, confidential and market-wide access point for reporting inappropriate behaviors.
  • Confirmation that, where investigations conclude that individuals have a case to answer, they will be subject to sanctions from their own companies and also from Lloyd’s. They may be banned from entering Lloyd’s for a fixed period and potentially for life.
  • Undertaking an independent and market-wide culture survey to identify the scale and scope of the issue, and to inform further action.
  • A comprehensive review of policies and practices across the Lloyd’s market, with a view to identifying and sharing best practice.
  • Provision of training focused on prevention, as well as reporting and supporting those who have been subjected to inappropriate behavior.

This is in addition to the company’s commitment to hearing accounts of women who spoke to Bloomberg, in a safe and confidential space; and making changes to Lloyd’s Nominations Committee to improve diversity. Fiona Luck and Vicky Carter will join the committee immediately, succeeding Sir David Manning and Charles Franks.

“It has been distressing to hear about the experiences of women in the Lloyd’s market. No one should be subjected to this sort of behavior, and if it does happen, everyone has the right to be heard and for those responsible to be held to account,” said John Neal, CEO of Lloyd’s. “I am pleased that the market has given its full support for a strong set of actions, and I am determined that Lloyd’s offers a safe and inclusive working environment for everyone.”

Source: LLOYD’S

Two whistleblowers receive $50 million from SEC

(Washington D.C. – Insurance News 360) – On March 26, the Securities Exchange Commission announced $50 million in awards to two whistleblowers. One individual received the third largest award to date – $37 million. The second received a $13 million reward.

“Whistleblowers like those being awarded today may be the source of ‘smoking gun’ evidence and indispensable assistance that strengthens the agency’s ability to protect investors and the capital markets,” said Jane Norberg, Chief of the SEC’s Office of the Whistleblower.  “These awards show how critically important whistleblowers can be to the agency’s investigation and ability to bring a case to successful and efficient resolution.”

Since 2012, when the first whistleblower award was given, the SEC has awarded more than $375 million to 61 different individuals. Payments for these awards come from an investor protection fund financed through the monetary sanctions paid to the SEC by those who violate securities laws. None of the award money has come from investors who were harmed by violators.

The SEC protects the confidentiality of whistleblowers and does not disclose information that could reveal a whistleblower’s identity as required by the Dodd-Frank Act.

For more information about the whistleblower program and how to report a tip, visit

Source: U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.