Chicago-based Aon Corp. announced that its clients accepted more than 70 percent of the 352,000 offers made by the insurance broker to settle claims that it steered business to insurers who paid hidden fees, according to a recent Chicago Tribune story.
More than 900 of the company’s 1,000 largest clients by revenue were among those who accepted offers, according to media spokesman Al Orendorff. The roughly $140 million in claims will be paid out of a $190 million fund created as part of a nationwide settlement Aon reached with prosecutors in Connecticut, Illinois and New York.
“People who opt into the settlement can’t sue Aon in the future,” Orendorff said. Orendorff did not disclose the number of clients who accepted the offers, but added that some took multiple offers.
Aon, the world’s second-largest insurance broker, along with competitors Marsh & McLennan Cos., the No. 1 broker, and Willis Group Holdings Ltd., has been accused of steering business to insurers that paid hidden fees. Aon did not admit or deny wrongdoing as part of the March settlement. The company has tried to eliminate litigation risk by extending settlement offers.
On Dec. 7 Illinois state court Judge Julia Nowicki in Chicago delayed ruling on a separate $38 million settlement in a 1999 class-action lawsuit against Aon.
The suit was filed by policyholders Alan Daniel and the Williamson County Agricultural Association. Nowicki gave lawyers on both sides two weeks to file additional arguments in the suit, which also accused the insurance broker of favoring insurers that paid the hidden fees.
The percentage of settlement offers accepted was previously reported by Business Insurance, a trade journal published by Crain Communications Inc. in Chicago.
Shares of Aon fell 32 cents, to $35.83, on the New York Stock Exchange.
Copyright © 2005, Chicago Tribune
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