Insurance

Banking players on rise: Despite flood of mergers, area competition heats upRestricted Content

January 16, 2006
Matthew Kish
Big-ticket bank mergers grabbed plenty of headlines in the past two years. Just don't let the splashy news stories fool you. The number of players in the Indianapolis banking market is expanding, even amid consolidation in the industry nationwide. Over the past 10 years, the number of banks taking deposits in the metropolitan area has grown from 41 to 56, according to annual data from the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. Analysts attribute much of the growth to smaller banks and...
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From FFA to DNA: Businesses view convention as more than a gathering of corn growersRestricted Content

January 16, 2006
Matthew Kish
Don't call it the Future Farmers of America. That went out of style with pastel suits and parachute pants. The organization is now known as the FFA. And it's no longer just a gathering of crop jockeys. The change in moniker partly illustrates why business leaders are so excited for the first of at least seven annual conventions the organization will stage in the Circle City starting in late October. "FFA is a premier, if not the premier, youth organization...
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TAWN PARENT Commentary: Can't get no (job) satisfaction?Restricted Content

January 16, 2006
-Dylan Thomas What would it take for you to love your job? For my friend Portia Graves, it's taking a major career change. After 14 years as an insurance adjuster, she has enrolled in nursing school at age 40. She liked her job at first, but eventually the luster wore off. "I saw this huge increase in what I would call greed. It was really starting to get to me," she said. And as the industry became more afraid of...
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ECONOMIC ANALYSIS: We want to spur economy, but what's the best way?Restricted Content

January 9, 2006
Patrick Barkey
If you want to get an idea just how hot the topic of economic development is in Indiana these days, take a stroll over to the Department of Insurance's Web page. Instead of finding notices of regulatory proceedings or a lineby-line listing of the insurance code, you'll get a spirited, enthusiastic rundown of all of the reasons Indiana is a great state in which to locate your insurance company. If you happen to own one, that is. That's a little...
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Slow start predicted for Roth 401(k) plans: Many companies, employees likely to take wait-and-see attitude regarding new retirement-savings vehicleRestricted Content

January 9, 2006
Scott Olson
So when the Roth 401(k) debuted Jan. 1, he gave his 24 employees at Thurston Springer Miller Herd & Titak Inc. the opportunity to sink a percentage of their earnings in the new option. The idea draws upon the standard 401(k) plan that is the vehicle of choice for millions of working Americans saving for retirement. But a distinct difference between the two might scare some employees away. Unlike a traditional 401(k), the money diverted into a workplace Roth is...
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J&J Detailing and More Inc.: More to detailing firm than a buff and grime J&J prides itself on experienced staff, exemplary serviceRestricted Content

January 9, 2006
Jo Ellen
J&J prides itself on experienced staff, exemplary service Two Southport High School chums were talking one day about how much people were willing to pay for clean cars at the good detailing shops. "We both had some ideas about how it would work. We went home, made some notes and realized we could do this ourselves," said John Boyce, 45, co-owner of J&J Detailing and More Inc., founded three years ago. The other J is Jeff Hord. The two had...
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EYE ON THE PIE: Cost-of-living is with us, not in the starsRestricted Content

January 2, 2006
Morton Marcus
"I saw your column last week about the cost of living and I think you are a fool." That was among the kinder messages on my mental answering machine, the one that records the thoughts I imagine readers have after reading my columns. All I had done was explain that the major differences in living costs in different places are related to housing. Housing prices reflect income levels, the benefits of living in different places, and the limitations on building...
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Drug costs on chopping block: M-Plan introduces pill-splitting programRestricted Content

January 2, 2006
Tom Murphy
Indiana's second-largest insurer, M-Plan Inc., welcomed some of its customers to the new year with a pill-splitting program that can chop prescription drug costs in half. The Indianapolis-based health maintenance organization became part of a growing crowd of insurers endorsing a money-saving concept long practiced by doctors and patients. However, pill splitting still stirs a healthy dose of concern over safety in some corners of the pharmaceutical world. "I've had arguments with insurance companies about this for years," said Skip...
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Big sale finishes hot year: Firm buys 6 office buildings at Keystone at the Crossing; price lags other mega-dealsRestricted Content

December 26, 2005
Tammy Lieber
A record year for sales of local office properties is ending with a bang, as a half dozen buildings at Keystone at the Crossing change hands. Philadelphia-based Berwind Property Group purchased a six-building portfolio, including the high-rise office towers at Keystone at the Crossing, from Teachers Insurance and Annuity Association. The deal, which closed Dec. 22, includes buildings totaling about 1 million square feet at 8500, 8888, 8900, 8930, 9100 and 9200 Keystone Crossing, developed by locally based Duke Realty...
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Small biz preparing wish list: Lobbyists hope to repeat past legislative successRestricted Content

December 26, 2005
Matthew Kish
But that doesn't mean the organization and its 16,000 Hoosier members will rest on their laurels for the short legislative session in 2006. The group will bring a full wish list to the Statehouse in January, lobbying against increased property taxes and health insurance mandates. It'll also petition lawmakers to restrict eminent domain seizures. Still, observers don't think the organization will have as much cause for uncorking the bubbly as it did last year. No different than last session, businessfriendly...
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Web site stirs controversy: Watchdogs pan Insurance Department's pro-business stanceRestricted Content

December 26, 2005
Tom Murphy
Consumer watchdogs are howling over a revamped state Insurance Department Web site that pitches Indiana's "positive regulatory climate" and other business-friendly attributes. The site's new look debuted a few weeks ago and aims to make companies think about moving to Indiana, Insurance Commissioner Jim Atterholt said. But critics say a regulator should never play the role of recruiter, and the approach sends the wrong message to consumers seeking help. "It raises some questions-you know, who's your first master?" said Julia...
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NEWSMAKER: Dealmaker Hilbert starts private equity firm:Restricted Content

December 26, 2005
-Greg Andrews
NEWSMAKER Dealmaker Hilbert starts private equity firm Five years after his ouster as CEO of Conseco Inc., the acquisitive insurer he founded, Steve Hilbert is back in the deal-making game. IBJ reported in November that Hilbert has launched MH Private Equity Fund LLC, a private-equity firm that plans to buy firms in specific industries and consolidate them. Consolidation will bring economies of scale and cost savings, the thinking goes, and also will create marketleading companies positioned to thrive in their...
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RETURN ON TECHNOLOGY Tim Altom: Here is list of the worst tech foibles of 2005Restricted Content

December 26, 2005
Well, happy holidays again, my brethren! It's once more time for my holiday gift to you, a compendium of technological disasters that test the assertion that we're happiest when we read about those who have been more humiliated than we were. As military pilots used to say about their own missteps, "Man, that'll leave a crater." The most recent example in this hall of horrors is Mizuho Securities, as reported by CNN Dec. 9. Massive, Tokyo-based Mizuho switched two numbers...
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Retirees from IPL face cuts: Declining assets strain trust providing benefits to 1,900Restricted Content

December 19, 2005
Chris O\'malley
A stampede of early retirements after IPALCO Enterprises was bought by AES Corp. in 2001 is forcing cuts in health and life insurance benefits starting next month. The IPALCO Enterprises Voluntary Employee Beneficiary Association has told its 1,900 participants that new members and rising health care costs have forced cuts that "are absolutely essential to extend the long-term viability of the VEBA Trust." The retirement plan's assets have fallen to $88 million from $95 million at year-end 2004, according to...
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State freeze pushes nursing care at home: FSSA clamps down on the addition of Medicaid bedsRestricted Content

December 19, 2005
Tom Murphy
Indiana regulators have put a temporary freeze on the addition of Medicaid beds to nursing homes, as part of their push to shift care out of institutions and into patient homes. The state Family & Social Services Administration enacted a 90-day rule starting Dec. 15. While it's in place, the state agency won't sign the Medicaid nursing facility provider agreements needed to add beds unless they fit within narrow exceptions. In addition to imposing the temporary rule, FSSA Secretary Mitch...
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Conseco could land upgrade by midyear: Analysts see positive signs for Carmel insurerRestricted Content

December 19, 2005
Tom Murphy
Conseco Inc. by mid-2006 may earn a coveted ratings upgrade from A.M. Best Co., an achievement likely to bolster the Carmel-based insurer's sales, analysts said. Best probably will dole out the financial-strength upgrade in the second quarter, after the New Jersey-based firm reviews Conseco's final 2005 financial results, said Jukka Lipponen, a Connecticut-based analyst for Keefe Bruyette & Woods. "We believe as management continues to deliver on its expectations and once Conseco receives the A.M. Best upgrade ... investor patience...
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Clarian nabs UAC building: Hospital network wins bid for former corporate headquartersRestricted Content

December 5, 2005
Tom Murphy
Clarian Health Partners is polishing a deal to buy the former Union Acceptance Corp. headquarters on North Shadeland Avenue, a move that plants a large footprint for the burgeoning hospital network squarely in a competitor's east-side back yard. Clarian made the winning bid for the 126,000-square-foot building at a Nov. 15 auction, but the sale had not closed as of Nov. 30, said Bob Getts of Colliers Turley Martin Tucker, which ran the auction. He referred all questions to Clarian....
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Water treaty on tap: Mediated agreement calls for Carmel to pay Indy $36.2MRestricted Content

December 5, 2005
Chris O\'malley
Carmel and its big-city neighbor to the south have a truce in hand to end a 3-1/2-year war over what Carmel will pay to buy Indianapolis-owned water distribution lines serving 6,000 customers in the Hamilton County community. The proposed purchase price: $36.2 million, according to documents recently filed with state regulators. Carmel officials say the deal eventually should improve water pressure and lower fire insurance rates, and make it easier to plan for growth. It also would give affected residents...
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Health discount cards spark call for regulation: State insurance group leads registration pushRestricted Content

December 5, 2005
Tom Murphy
Some health care discount programs that can leave patients stranded with large medical bills have put Indiana insurers in the strange position of asking for more government regulation. The Indiana Association of Health Underwriters plans to lobby in the upcoming legislative session for a bill that requires companies offering health care discounts to register with the state. That would allow regulators to investigate complaints and pursue regulatory action if troubles arise with the discounts, said Shawn Gibbons, a board member...
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Industry races to promote itself: Statewide motorsports group hopes to thwart competition from other U.S. marketsRestricted Content

November 28, 2005
Anthony Schoettle
Area motorsports leaders are gearing up for another run at unifying the industry and assuring the region retains its status as one of the world's leading motorsports markets. Organizers of the latest effort promise they won't spin their wheels this time around. They're casting a wider net-going statewide with a motorsports association-to attract more members and build more clout with the media, local and state lawmakers, and service providers, such as banks and insurance companies. The Indiana Motorsports Association Inc....
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Health care: big problem for small business: Wyoming lawmaker's proposed legislation could end 10-year Senate impasse on controversial solutionRestricted Content

November 28, 2005
Matthew Kish
More than 45 million Americans lack health insurance. And more than half of them are employed or dependent on someone who works for a small business, according to the National Federation of Independent Business. It's a big problem-especially in Indiana. Between 2000 and 2004, 5.6 percent of Hoosier workers lost employer-provided health care, according to the Economic Policy Institute. That's a higher percentage than any state except Wisconsin. Legislation just introduced in Congress by Wyoming Sen. Michael Enzi, however, may...
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Merry Realty Inc.: Big plans for small firm Real estate agency tries to win business by teaching buyers rules of the gameRestricted Content

November 21, 2005
Ed Callahan
Real estate agency tries to win business by teaching buyers rules of the game Large agencies may dominate the residential real estate game, but Indianapolis-based Merry Realty is trying to prove a small player still can make a big name for itself. For years, Merry Realty has focused its efforts on properties in Indianapolis, but it is rapidly expanding into a more diverse market, targeting booming areas like Hamilton County while staying loyal to its inner-city roots. Real estate broker...
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Standard Life sale leads to lawsuit over price: Kentucky buyer claims $652,000 refund is owedRestricted Content

November 21, 2005
Tom Murphy
Standard Management Corp. last week disclosed a new round of financial challenges and was hit with a lawsuit by a Kentucky company that bought its Standard Life Insurance subsidiary earlier this year. Louisville-based Capital Assurance Corp. accuses Standard Management of breaching terms of the contract to sell Standard Life and seeks a $652,126 refund, according to the lawsuit filed Nov. 14 in federal court in Indianapolis. Standard claims it owes only $43,000 in what it deems a "purchase-price adjustment dispute,"...
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Higher stadium price looms: Hurricanes likely to blow up costs for construction projectsRestricted Content

November 21, 2005
Anthony Schoettle
The Gulf Coast hurricanes may push construction costs sharply higher for several years, experts say, potentially adding millions of dollars in costs to the $625 million football stadium as well as other public projects in their early stages. "Even a 1-percent cost increase on a project like [the stadium] is significant, and the effects from these hurricanes is likely to be higher than that," said Patrick Barkey, an economist and director of economic and policy studies at the Miller College...
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BEHIND THE NEWS: Hilbert's next act: Jumping into private equity gameRestricted Content

November 14, 2005
Greg Andrews
Stephen Hilbert suffered another legal defeat last week. But don't bet the founder and ex-CEO of Conseco Inc. is sitting around feeling sorry for himself. In fact, this fall Hilbert, 59, is quietly launching a major new business, one that will get him back into the acquisition game, a field he savored during his two decades atop Conseco. Details are sketchy, because Hilbert isn't talking. But here's what a little snooping turned up: Attorneys in July filed papers with the...
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