Top 5 U.S. insurance news stories of 2010.

A lot of the news in this country is often tied to the insurance industry because it is so much a part of our lives. Here are some of the top stories of 2010 that directly impacted insurance for both personal citizens and businesses.

1) Health care reform

On March 23, in a move that polarized the nation, President Barack Obama signed legislation that guaranteed access to medical insurance for millions of Americans. Republicans vowed to repeal the law and, according to the New York Times, nearly two dozen federal lawsuits have been filed trying to block portions of the bill.

2) BP oil spill
In April, the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig exploded in the Gulf of Mexico killing 11 workers and unleashing an oil spill that killed countless wildlife and severely damaged Gulf industries like tourism and fishing. Over 4 million gallons of oil leaked before the well was plugged, and the costs of the response effort to BP hit $8 billion by September according to Reuters. That’s excluding damage and liability claims. Insurance costs for oil companies are expected to go up exponentially.

3) 20 million recalls by auto makers
In April, several major car insurance companies sought to recoup money from Toyota for claims paid on crashes that involved sudden acceleration. Sudden acceleration incidences were the main reason for Toyota’s recall of millions of vehicles. General Motors Co., Honda, Nissan, Ford and Chrysler all had recalls in 2010 according to Insurance Journal.

4) Worst year for bank failures since 1992
According to the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp., more banks failed in 2010 than any year since the savings-and-loan crisis of 1992. 157 banks failed at the close of this year, with more to come, leaving the FDIC insurance fund in the red.

5) National Flood Insurance Program lapses/extends
The National Flood Insurance Program is a federal government program that provides homeowners with flood insurance who live in flood zones. (Standard property insurance policies don’t provide this coverage.) The U.S. Senate allowed the program to expire on May 31, leaving many homeowners without the ability to renew or obtain coverage. The program was eventually extended until September, 2011.

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