Surveys of current policy renewal prices as reported by agents and brokers, and corporate risk managers, appear to confirm that the soft cycle for commercial lines is getting even softer. According to the latest market survey from the Council of Insurance Agents & Brokers (CIAB), the average premium decline for all commercial accounts regardless of size was -13.5 percent in the first quarter of 2008, compared with a -12 percent decline in the fourth quarter of 2007. Although coverage for coastal properties was still problematic, there was more capacity available and rates were down in most areas.

Similarly, the 2008 RIMS Benchmark Survey reports that another year free of major natural catastrophes, combined with abundant insurance capacity contributed to falling insurance costs, leading to lower average total cost of risk (TCOR) per $1,000 of revenue in 2007. Even property premiums began to edge downward, according to RIMS. Meanwhile, online insurance exchange MarketScout puts the average P/C rate decrease at -12 percent in March 2008, with commercial property and general liability experiencing the largest rate decreases of -14 percent.