More lawsuits were filed against directors and officers of large banks last year than against 11 other types of business analyzed in a recent surveyed.

Wyatt Co.'s 1993 D&O liability survey also found that banks with more than $1 billion in assets had the highest D&O insurance premiums of the dozen industries surveyed.

Large banks paid a median premium of $346,000 to insure their directors and officers, Wyatt found. Utilities and nondurable goods manufacturers were next, at $343,000 each.

1,203 Companies Contacted

Chicago-based Wyatt surveyed a cross section of U.S. industries, covering 1,203 companies. Participants answered written questions about liability claims and insurance.

Utilities and big banks are the most likely to have D&O coverage, Wyatt found, with 96% of all utilities and 94% of banks with more than $1 billion in assets buying the insurance.

The average premium increase was 2% in 1993, according to the survey.

Companies with a history of merger, acquisition, or divestiture activity were twice as likely to have a claim against their directors or officers, Wyatt found.

The survey asked businesspeople to list claims brought during the past nine years. A total of 712 claims were reported by 302 participants.

Of those, 468 had been resolved. The claimant had dropped 100 of these resolved claims, and most of the resolved claims not dropped were closed without an indemnity payment.

The average defense cost was $750,000, Wyatt found.

Although government suits against directors and officers get the most attention, they made up only 3% of the claims. Shareholders were the largest single group of claimants, at 47%. Employees followed, at 27%.

American International Group, New York, had the largest share of the D&O insurance market by policy count, and Chubb & Son Inc., Warren, N.J., led on premium volume.

Wyatt also found that specialized, or niche, underwriting, a trend first noted in its 1987 report, is now commonplace.

Wyatt found that most survey participants had renewed their D&O insurance with no change in coverage limits, deductibles, or exclusions.

Among the 196 participants who did not carry D&O insurance, 56% said it cost too much, 50% said they did not need it, and 48% said the coverage is too limited.

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