Market Conditions


Commercial insurance rates in the United States slipped to plus 2 percent in June 2014 from plus 3 percent in May, according to latest analysis from online insurance exchange MarketScout.

Richard Kerr, CEO of MarketScout, said:

The commercial market continues to adjust downward as a result of improved underwriting results and an abundance of capacity. In the aggregate, rates are still up slightly but the trend for rate moderation continues.”

By coverage class, umbrella, workers’ compensation, D&O, and EPLI all moderated from the prior month with each registering a plus 1 percent rate increase.

Workers’ compensation rates slipped the most from plus 3 percent in May to plus 1 percent in June.

By account size, small (up to $25,000) and medium accounts ($25,001 up to $250,000) remained at plus 3 percent. Large accounts ($250,001 to $1 million) slipped from plus 2 percent to plus 1 percent and jumbo accounts (over $1 million) were up 0 percent or flat.

Kerr noted that this is the first plus 0 percent measurement since the market turned towards rate increases in November 2011:

It’s not surprising the jumbo accounts have gone flat as the name brand account continues to allure underwriters despite the lower ROE. There is a pricing benefit to being a name brand, Fortune 1000 insurance buyer.”

By industry class, manufacturing, transportation and energy all adjusted their month-over-month rate increases downward by 1 percent.

Check out latest information from the I.I.I. on financial results and market conditions.

Global insurance markets are seeing stronger growth, thanks to the economic upswing in many industrialized countries, according to an annual study by Munich Re.

Munich Re’s Insurance Market Outlook 2014 finds that rate increases in a number of high volume markets are also having a positive effect on premium growth.

At the global level, Munich Re expects real overall growth in primary insurance premiums at 2.8 percent this year and 3.2 percent in 2015, influenced mainly by stronger growth again in life insurance.

[In 2013, global insurance markets saw restrained growth of 2.1 percent in real terms, with primary insurance premiums in the life insurance segment growing by just 1.8 percent, due to a number of regulatory one-off effects.]

While in recent years dynamic growth in emerging countries has served as the decisive growth driver of global premium volumes, especially in property/casualty insurance, Munich Re notes that it is the industrial countries whose contribution to growth is currently increasing.

Many emerging countries are currently experiencing a cooling of their economies, and this is expected to have a dampening effect on premium growth in 2014 and 2015.

In the long-term however, Munich Re expects that emerging countries will continue to become more important for the global insurance markets.

The emerging Asian countries will see the highest increases, with their share of global premium volume expected to rise by 5 percentage points, from 9 percent in 2013 to 14 percent in 2020.

The Chinese market, already the fourth-largest primary insurance market with premium volume of over €210 billion in 2013, will more than double by 2020 to become the third-largest market worldwide, according to Munich Re.

The more than two-year upward trajectory in rates for commercial insurance in the U.S. is in jeopardy as U.S. insurers, supported by reinsurers, catastrophe bonds and insurance linked securities are finding ample reasons to start fighting over business, according to online insurance exchange MarketScout.

Richard Kerr, CEO of MarketScout noted that the composite rate for U.S. commercial insurance remained in positive territory increasing an average of 2 percent in April 2014, but warned that rate reductions are likely by year end if the current trend continues.

If you are in the market on a daily basis, you can almost feel a change in the wind. No reasonable insurer wants rate reductions. However, everyone seems to feel they are coming.”

By line of coverage, Kerr noted that catastrophic property rates will probably hold steady in the next four months with hurricane season about to start:

If the wind doesn’t blow, get ready for a solid round of rate reductions at year-end.”

On workers’ compensation, Kerr noted that it is and always has been a tough class of business with an extremely long tail:

In the last six months, several major workers’ compensation insurers have exited the market. Many others have dramatically cut back their writings. We expect workers’ compensation insurers to hold steady with small rate increases continuing.”

In its April market analysis MarketScout noted that rates for property, business interruption, BOP, umbrella, auto, workers’ compensation, and D&O all moderated one percent.

By account size, medium accounts ($25,001 to $250,000 premium) were down from plus 3 percent to plus 2 percent. Large accounts ($1 million plus premium) adjusted from plus 3 percent to plus 1 percent.

By industry class, rates for manufacturing, contracting, and public entities all moderated one percent.

Business Insurance reports on this story here.

Big savings are not all they seem, at least when it comes to buying auto insurance.

The just-released J.D. Power 2014 U.S. Insurance Shopping Study finds that poor service is a leading reason why customers shop for and switch to a new auto insurer, rather than price.

Declining satisfaction with new price is also the primary reason customers are less satisfied when they do switch insurer, according to the study findings.

J.D. Power notes that some 30 percent of auto customers shopped for a new insurance provider in 2013, of which 36 percent ultimately switched insurers.

Perhaps surprisingly, increases in premiums do not drive shopping as much as poor experience.

Customers who have a poor experience with their insurer shop at a rate of 28 percent – more than double the rate of shopping among those who experience a premium increase (13 percent).

Another key takeaway is that customers are tolerant of rate increases at a certain level. However, rate hikes of more than $200 can triple the rate of customers who switch insurers.

A press release quotes Jeremy Bowler, senior director of the insurance practice at J.D. Power:

The insurance industry spends billions of dollars each year on advertising, and over the last seven years many of those ads have tried to entice customers with big savings. While switching to a new insurer usually results in savings, the ads make promises of savings that a growing number of new customers don’t believe they’ve received.”

Price, however, is still important in the selection process with eight in 10 customers selecting the lowest-price insurer.

Price is also an increasingly important driver of new-buyer purchase experience satisfaction once customers have selected a new insurer. Overall new buyer satisfaction with the auto insurance buying experience averages 821 (on a 1,000-point scale), down significantly from 828 in 2013.

J.D. Power notes that the decline in satisfaction is driven by a 17-point drop in the price factor, which has the greatest impact on customer satisfaction.

Check out I.I.I. facts and statistics on auto insurance.

Online insurance exchange MarketScout reported that rates for commercial insurance in the United States were up slightly in March 2014, extending the slow but steady rate increases business owners have been paying since November 2011.

The composite rate for property and casualty coverages in the U.S. was up 3 percent in March, compared to plus 2 percent in February.

Richard Kerr, CEO of MarketScout said the ongoing rate adjustments come as insurers look to meet profit targets:

Insurers target a specific ROE. Despite improving margins, insurers are still not meeting their profit targets, thus the continued marginal increases.”

BOP, commercial auto, and workers compensation led the way with rates up 4 percent. However, as PC360 reports, both commercial auto and BOP were flat compared to February increases, while workers compensation was up 1 percent over the prior month.

By account size, any account with premium from $25,000 to $1 million paid a 3 percent increase compared to 2 percent the prior month.

By industry classification, manufacturing and energy accounts paid more than the prior month with manufacturing up to plus 4 percent and energy up plus 2 percent.

Check out I.I.I. information on financial results and market conditions.

Online insurance exchange MarketScout reported that the composite rate for U.S. commercial insurance increased an average of 3 percent in January 2014.

Commercial auto and workers compensation rates led the way with increases of 4 percent.

However, rates for five coverage classes – inland marine, EPLI, fiduciary, crime and surety – increased by just 1 percent.

Richard Kerr, CEO of MarketScout noted that the average rate increase in January 2014 barely matched year-end 2013 at plus 3 percent:

If we were to post rate changes by fractional increments, you would see the actual increase at 2.55 percent, so the moderation trend continues.”

Additional capacity, insurance linked securities and a more stable economic environment (despite recent stock market adjustments) are partly responsible for the moderating rate environment, according to MarketScout.

Hat tip to Business Insurance which reports here.

Check out latest information from the I.I.I. on financial and market conditions.

Online insurance exchange MarketScout reported that the composite rate for U.S. commercial insurance slipped to plus 3 percent in December 2013, down from plus 4 percent in November 2013.

Year-end 2013 closed with ample capacity, and additional capacity from new investors in the insurance market may put further downward pressure on rates in 2014, MarketScout noted.

Commercial auto was the most expensive coverage, leading the way with rates up 4 percent.

By industry, transportation and contracting risks were assessed the largest rate increases at plus 5 percent, while public entities were assessed the lowest rate increases at plus 2 percent, according to MarketScout.

By account size, small accounts (up to $25,000 premium) had the highest rate increases at plus 5 percent, while the largest accounts ($1 million plus premium) only had rate increases of plus 1 percent.

Richard Kerr, CEO of MarketScout, offered the following perspective:

If you are in favor of significant rate increases in 2014 you may be disappointed sans a catastrophic event or some sort of new tort liability issue. Investors are clamoring for decent returns in instruments not directly connected to the stock market. When this occurs, smart people come up with creative solutions to put these investor funds to work. Insurance Linked Securities (ILS) and new age reinsurance structures have opened the insurance market to many new investors and as a result, additional capacity. This added capacity may well put additional pressure on rates in 2014.”

Check out latest information from the I.I.I. on financial results and market conditions.

Health care organizations are facing a much more challenging directors and officers (D&O) liability insurance market as they adapt to changes arising from the Affordable Care Act (ACA), according to a new report from Marsh.

It reveals that average primary D&O rates for midsize and large health systems increased by 9.6 percent in the third quarter of 2013, while total program D&O rates renewed with 7.9 percent increases on average.

Nearly all organizations – 91 percent – renewed with rate increases, according to its findings.

Marsh notes that since the passage of the ACA in 2010, the health care industry has undergone rapid consolidation resulting in organizations working more closely together and sharing information.

As a result, many health care organizations face increased exposure to antitrust risks and this has insurers concerned.

In some cases D&O insurers have lowered their antitrust sublimits and increased antitrust-related coinsurance requirements and retentions, Marsh says. In addition to raising rates, some D&O insurers are also pulling back on offering full policy limit defense coverage.

It quotes Mark Karlson, Marsh’s FINPRO Health Care Practice Leader:

Ongoing merger and acquisition activity and the transition to accountable care organizations and similar networks are creating new exposures for many health care organizations, including antitrust risks.

This has resulted in a much more challenging D&O market for health care companies. Risk managers should expect to face additional rate increases in 2014 and be prepared to provide underwriters with detailed answers about their response to health care reform.”

PC360 has more on this story.

Check out I.I.I. information on D&O liability insurance.

Another day, another commercial lines pricing survey. This one via Towers Watson.

Commercial insurance prices increased by 5 percent in aggregate during the third quarter of 2013, according to Towers Watson’s latest Commercial Lines Insurance Pricing Survey (CLIPS),

While this marked the 11th consecutive quarter of price increases, the gains appear to be tapering off, dropping a point since the CLIPS edition a year ago, Towers Watson said.

The survey compares carriers’ pricing on policies underwritten during the third quarter of 2013 to those underwritten in the same quarter of 2012.

Price increases by line of business were lower than those reported in the second quarter in all lines, with the exception of employment practices liability.

Employment practices liability experienced the largest price increase year over year, with price increases spiking into double digits, followed distantly by workers compensation and commercial auto.

Prices for most lines of commercial insurance showed gains in the mid-single digits, while none of the classes surveyed reported a price drop, according to Towers Watson.

A press release quotes Tom Hettinger, Towers Watson’s Property & Casualty sales and practice leader for the Americas:

This hard market is somewhat different from hard markets we have experienced before. Carriers are taking rate, which is logical, as they focus on measuring the capital required to support the business rigorously and realistically, and adjust their return expectations accordingly.”

Hettinger added that loss cost trends are benign – in fact, carriers are reporting flat loss costs.

Yet the explicit recognition of risk, whether in the form of investment yield, inflation risk or catastrophe exposure, seems to be leading to much more disciplined pricing decisions.”

Survey respondents reported that loss ratios have improved between 3 percent and 6 percent for accident-year 2013 relative to 2012 (excluding catastrophes), as earned price increases more than offset stagnant reported claim cost inflation.

For the most recent survey, data were contributed by 43 participating insurers representing approximately 20% of the U.S. commercial insurance market (excluding state workers compensation funds).

Check out I.I.I. facts and statistics on commercial lines.

Online insurance exchange MarketScout reports that the composite rate for U.S. commercial insurance held steady at plus 4 percent in November, matching the rates for October 2013.

Richard Kerr, CEO of MarketScout noted:

The market is still on an upward trajectory but rate increases are slowing.”

Kerr went on to explain that the only rate increases by coverage classification were small commercial policies (BOP) and general liability coverages, which both increased from plus 3 percent to plus 4 percent.

However, the general liability increase was possibly an adjustment from the unusually large percentage rate reduction in October, Kerr said.

Jumbo accounts (those over $1 million premium) were up from plus 2 percent to plus 3 percent. The manufacturing segment saw its rates increase from plus 4 percent to plus 5 percent.

Rates moderated by 1 percent in November for umbrella liability, auto, and crime coverages, MarketScout added.

By account size, medium accounts ($25,001 to $250,000 premium) were down from plus 5 percent to plus 4 percent.

Transportation accounts paid an average plus 4 percent in November as compared to plus 5 percent in October.

Check out latest information on financial results and market conditions from the I.I.I.

Next Page »