When economic times are tough, executives turn their focus to increasing revenues and reducing costs. It's easy to say, but executing this simple idea can prove much more difficult, especially in the insurance industry.The events of Sept. 11, 2001 and the recession have brought the healthy profits the insurance industry saw in the 1990s crashing down into the depths of financial hardship.

And while terrorist attacks and economic instability may seem like old news to some, when these factors are combined with accounting irregularities, fraud and corporate bankruptcies, the result is a dramatically destabilized insurance sector. Shriveling investment portfolios, rising claims costs and increased government scrutiny and regulation have all increased the pressure on insurance executives.

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