The composite rate for U.S. property and casualty insurance was down four percent in March 2011, compared to minus 5 percent the previous four months, according to the latest analysis from online insurance exchange MarketScout.

Richard Kerr, CEO of MarketScout, said:

“We have finally broken out of the doldrums. Rates are moving. Workers’ compensation, property, business interruption, small commercial (BOP), general liability and auto rates adjusted in March.”

As in prior soft market cycles, MarketScout expects specific coverage sectors to lead the market back to firmer pricing.

“It looks like the soft market of 2005-2011 will end with workers’ compensation and catastrophe exposed property risks leading the way out.”

Kerr noted that workers’ compensation pricing has been firming for the last six months, with rate increases already underway in certain states.

By August, MarketScout expects workers’ compensation rate increases on a composite basis.

The composite rate for all U.S. property is down 4 percent, but catastrophe exposed property risks are receiving rate increases of two to five percent.

As Kerr said:

“After the Japan earthquake and RMS 11, there has been considerable speculation about property rates.”

Insurance Journal has more on this story.

Check out I.I.I. facts + stats on the property casualty insurance cycle.