In 2005, then-New York State Attorney General Eliot Spitzer won an $850 million settlement from insurance broker Marsh & McLennan and largely ended the practice of major brokers collecting contingent commissions from insurers on sales of commercial policies. Now the Illinois Department of Insurance's decision to allow Arthur J. Gallagher & Co., the nation's No. 4 broker, to resume collecting such commissions threatens to bring back a practice risk managers dislike and distrust.

"For nearly five years, we've had transparency in the buying of insurance," says Shari Natovitz, risk manager for Silverstein Properties, which gained fame as the owner of the World Trade Center in New York City. "But now the old practice of brokers collecting commissions from both sides of the deal is creeping back in."

Natovitz says the issue isn't a problem for Silverstein because it has "a broker who refuses to accept commissions from the insurance companies whose policies he sells." Still, she says, "with the Illinois decision, we're back on a slippery slope."

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