INSURERS have denied "putting Britain out of business" by refusing cover and increasing premiums for...
INSURERS have denied "putting Britain out of business" by refusing cover and increasing premiums for employers' and public liability insurance to "totally unrealistic" levels, according to a report in the FT.
The claims come from the British Chambers of Commerce, which has conducted a survey of the problems its 135,000 member businesses have faced in the past year as commercial insurance premiums have soared.
The survey showed that more than 6% of businesses and 9% of manufacturers had been refused insurance cover altogether, while almost 20% of manufacturers were seeing increases of 50 to 100% for employers' and public liability cover.
THE FT also reports that banks are well-placed to exploit the opportunity to sell pensions and long-term savings products to mass market consumers, according to new research by Accenture.
Findings found a big gap in pension take-up, with 79% of consumers not owning a personal pension and 68% not owning a company pension.
The study found that although 51% would choose a bank as their preferred provider of long-term pensions and savings after expected regulatory changes in the way they can be sold, only 32% would choose an independent financial adviser, while 6% preferred to deal direct with an insurer.
ANOTHER study reported in the FT reveals that the average consumer has an outstanding £1,400 balance on his or her credit card, according to a new report by PwC which found that the number of credit and charge card users rose by 2m in 2001.
Average outstanding balances per credit card user rose by 6% from £1,326 in 2000 to £1,406 in 2001, although the report says that reductions in interest rates have helped consumers manage their debt.
Annual losses from credit card fraud have more than tripled in three years, reaching £228m in 2001 mainly because of the counterfeit production of cards, according to the study.
The US's biggest corporations are nursing a pensions "black hole" of more than $200bn (£126bn) after the tumbling stock market and low interest rates have destroyed the value of hundreds of company retirement plans, reports the Times.
The number of underfunded pension plans of companies in the Standard & Poor's 500 index in the US has shot up since the end of last year.
In December 2001 some 240 corporations showed that their defined benefit pension funds did not have enough money to meet maximum requirements.
However, by the end of this year, according to a new Wall Street study, some 325 of the US's 500 biggest companies will not have enough cash in their funds to meet pension liabilities.
The study, by accounting experts in Credit Suisse First Boston, the investment bank, claims US pension funds could be $243 billion underfunded by the end of the year.
THE TIMES reports that the head of the Financial Services Authority is expected to face tough interrogation this week from MPs over compensation payments for thousands of victims of the collapse of split capital investment trusts.
The Commons Treasury Select Committee fears that the fund managers at the centre of the scandal cannot afford to compensate investors. Nineteen trusts have collapsed and a similar number are in severe financial difficulties.
The MPs are particulary concerned at the way one class of the trusts' shares, zero dividend preference shares, have been marketed as low risk.
They want to question Sir Howard Davies, the FSA chairman, and John Tiner, FSA managing director, on the possibilities of a compensation package for people who were misled into buying the shares.
REDUNDANT workers from an Irish company affiliated to ICI could face greatly reduced pensions after the collapse of the company last week, according to a report from the Times.
The final-salary pension scheme of Irish Fertilizer Industries, jointly owned by the Government of the Irish Republic and ICI, is thought to be underfunded by at least £15m. The company is in deficit by €45m (£29m), according to a liquidators' report released last week.
The company was closed after its management failed to come up with a viable business plan, and a total of 600 people have been made redundant. ICI and the Irish Republic's Government have agreed to waive loans worth €34.5 million, bringing the deficit down to just over €10m. Other creditors claim that they are owed a total of €79m.
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