Philosophers often debate whether civilization has learned the lessons of history. Likewise, for business executives, the advent of a new year is a time to reflect on events and issues that shaped the previous 12 months and ponder what lies ahead for the new year.Insurance had its share of major headlines in 2004. For some of these events, the ramifications will likely carry over into 2005 and beyond. Front and center is the ongoing investigation by New York Attorney General Eliot Spitzer. In this month's issue, various industry experts note that the unknown outcome of Hurricane Eliot has impacted carriers' plans on IT spending and project implementation for 2005.

More importantly, however, is how the ongoing investigations will affect state legislation and potential federal regulation of the insurance industry. In recent years, there have been increasing calls on Capitol Hill for some form of federal oversight of insurers, and Spitzer's widening probe of insurance business practices is fueling the fire for federal regulation. Senior insurance executives undoubtedly will be keeping one eye on internal operations and the other-warily-on Washington.

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