Enron keeps rippling everybody else’s lake. The latest example: it seems the company’s collapse is sending premiums for officers and directors insurance through the roof.
Companies whose market caps exceed $1 billion will see their premium bills jump more than 50 percent, according to published reports citing Willis Group Holdings Inc., the third-largest insurance broker.
In fact, the price of policies has jumped from $5,000 to $10,000 to between $25,000 and $30,000 for every $1 million of coverage for the first $50 million, Willis says.
Not surprisingly, fear of an Enron-like feeding frenzy is driving premiums up. The fear appears well-founded, too. In 2001, the number of suits filed against companies and their officers and directors jumped to a record 500, according to James Newman, executive director of Securities Class Action Services, in a published report. Keep in mind that from 1996 through 2000, there were between 200 and 300 class action suits filed each year.
The average settlement has grown, too, up to $25 million in 2000 from $17.5 million in 1999.
Interestingly, former Enron CEO Jeffrey Skilling’s testimony last week seemed to indicate that the former Enron CEO was willing to take a civil hit rather than a criminal one. In his testimony, Skilling appeared to be stating that you could fault his judgment — he repeated said he thought the company was in good financial shape. But Skilling would not admit to possessing any information that might make him criminally liable. If that’s his tack, it’s an intriguing strategy — particularly if Skilling is still covered by Enron’s D&O insurance.
For a detailed look at rate increases across all major lines of corporate insurance, read
Insurance at Risk, a CFO.com Buyer’s Guide.