Exceedingly high second-quarter catastrophe losses, the prospect of high underwriting losses associated with non-cat losses and more uncertainty in the investment markets are the main reasons for the cautious outlook.
The U.S. p/c industry reported an annualized statutory rate of return on average surplus of 5.6 percent during the first quarter of 2011, down from 6.8 percent in the year earlier quarter.
Commenting on the industryÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s first quarter 2011 results, Dr. Hartwig observed:
In the U.S., insured catastrophe losses totaled $1.9 billion during the first quarter of 2011. However, Dr. Hartwig noted that this figure will be dwarfed by some $15 billion or more in insured catastrophes for the second quarter, per recent PCS estimates.
Over at the Consumer Class Actions Mass Tort Blog, Russell Jackson, a partner at law firm Skadden Arps, notes that the Wal-Mart v Dukes opinion will have far-reaching application in class action defense.
June is Pride month, so hereÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s a round-up of some of the latest news and developments affecting the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community that piqued our interest:
Tying the knot: New York could become the sixth state in the nation to allow same sex marriage, pending a State Senate vote thatÃ‚ reports suggestÃ‚ may happenÃ‚ today. The NY State Assembly already voted in favor of the bill Wednesday. Same sex marriage is currently legal in five states (Massachusetts, Connecticut, Iowa, Vermont, and New Hampshire) and the District of Columbia. In addition, a number of states offer civil unions or domestic partnerships. Californians are still awaiting the outcome of a federal court case that will determine the constitutional validity of Proposition 8 (a constitutional amendment passed in California in November 2008 that restricts the definition of marriage to opposite sex couples).
Census snapshots:The Williams Institute at UCLA will be releasing snapshots of the 2010 Census throughout the summer, providing demographic and geographic information about same-sex couples and same-sex couples raising children for all 50 states, Washington D.C., and Puerto Rico. New this week: Alabama and Hawaii. The 2010 U.S. Census is the first to report counts of both same-sex partners and same-sex spouses.
Corporate equality: Insurers are among a growingÃ‚ number of Fortune 500 companies that continue to break new ground in workplace protections and benefits for LGBT people, according to the Human Rights Campaign FoundationÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s 2011 Corporate Equality Index (CEI). The CEI rates employers on a scale from 0 to 100 percent based on their LGBT workplace policies, benefits and practices, including non-discrimination policies and training, partner benefits, gender transition guidelines and LGBT resource groups. As an industry, insurance scored an average 91 percent rating in the latest survey, up from 88 percent the previous year. Check out our earlier post to see which insurers received a 100 percent rating.
Social media for a good cause: Direct auto insurer Esurance recently launched a charitable giving campaign on Facebook in support of The Trevor Project, the leading national organization providing crisis intervention and suicide prevention services to LGBT youth. For each new Ã¢â‚¬Å“LikeÃ¢â‚¬ on its Facebook page, Esurance donated $10 to the organization, raising a total of $50,000. If you havenÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t already, show your support and Ã¢â‚¬Å“LikeÃ¢â‚¬ Esurance.
According to catastrophe modeling firmÃ‚ Eqecat, this latest event (technically an aftershock) is expected to cause an additional $3 to $5 billion in insured losses to the region and is affecting an area already significantly damaged by earlier earthquakes.
The study found that for the first time, a majority of new buyers of auto insuranceÃ‚ Ã¢â‚¬“ more than 54 percentÃ‚ Ã¢â‚¬“Ã‚ initiated their policy purchase by applying for a rate quote online.
J.D. Power noted that the importance of an insurerÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s website in generating new business among new buyers has been increasing steadily for the past five years, at the expense of more traditional local agency or call center channels.
Now in its fifth year, the study examines consumer shopping and purchasing behaviors and overall satisfaction among buyers who recently purchased from an auto insurer across three factors: distribution channel; policy offerings; and price.
Within the distribution channel category, the study found the website now accounts for more than one-fourth of the importance weight, second to the local agent.
A press release quotes Jeremy Bowler, senior director of the global insurance practice at J.D. Power and Associates:
With stories about the E. coli outbreak in Europe dominating the news, this is a good time to reflect on food safety and contamination risks.
TheÃ‚ New York TimesÃ‚ reports that the cause of theÃ‚ outbreak of a rare strain of E. coli known as 0104:H4Ã‚ may have been sprouts grown on a farm in Germany.
What is being described as one of the most catastrophic food-borne illnesses in years,Ã‚ so farÃ‚ has left 22 dead and 2,153 people ill, more than 600 of them in intensive care, according toÃ‚ the NYT article.
As well asÃ‚ insurance, AonÃ‚ said pre-event planning and crisis management planning wereÃ‚ among the best strategies to improve an organizationÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s chances of recovery from a major contamination or recall incident.
Tornadoes caused $97.8 billion in insured losses in the U.S. between 1990 and 2009, making these weather events second only to hurricanes ($152.4 billion) over this same time period as the costliest natural disasters.
Check out this raw video footage of the Springfield tornado via YouTube and courtesy of Associated Press: