More brokers said demand for insurance was up in the first quarter of 2012, according to the latest Commercial P/C Market Index survey from the Council of Insurance Agents & Brokers (CIAB).

Some 59 percent of respondents said demand was up in the first quarter, compared to 53 percent who said demand did not improve in the previous quarter, the CIAB said. This increase in demand may be an indicator that the economy is improving.

The broker comments came as the Council’s analysis showed prices hardened and underwriting toughened in the U.S. commercial property/casualty market in the first quarter of 2012.

On average, small, medium and large account pricing rose 4.4 percent compared with 2.7 percent in the fourth quarter of 2011.

Large account pricing realized the biggest increase quarter-to-quarter – 4.1 percent compared with 1.6 percent in the fourth quarter of 2011.

Council president/CEO Ken Crerar commented:

We’ve been cautious up to now about declaring a market turn, but I think it’s reasonable to say that the market has made a hard turn after two quarters of price increases and tighter underwriting. It’s difficult to predict length and severity, but the market has turned.”

The Council’s analysis comes after MarketScout reported rates for U.S. commercial lines continued their upward trend in April 2012.

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