Category Archives: Market Conditions

The “After Glow” of Tax Reform Politics Too Good to Pass Up for Anti-Insurance Crowd

By Sean Kevelighan, CEO, ‎Insurance Information Institute

After the Tax Cut and Jobs Act of 2017 passed late last year, the Insurance Information Institute received numerous queries about the impact on property/casualty insurers. Given our mission at I.I.I. is not rooted in direct lobbying advocacy, we consciously refrained from engaging in what was sure to be (and was, in fact) a political battleground in some areas during the legislative process. That said, the industry deserves credit for coming together in many ways to ensure insurance receives fair treatment — a lesson learned from 1986 when the industry was sidelined.

While the anti-insurance crowd (most often misleading themselves as “pro consumer” groups) has been quick to add political rhetoric in the form of baseless and wildly exaggerated claims the industry will receive a “windfall” of income, the I.I.I. will, once again, adhere to facts that are based on actuarial and economic soundness.

Objectively, the I.I.I. sees the overall benefits to tax reform for the insurance industry to be well under 1 cent for every premium dollar.

How do we get that estimate?

Equity analysts at J.P. Morgan estimate tax reform would be about 5 percent of industry earnings, which seems reasonable based on what we know. In 2016 – 2017 industrywide results aren’t out yet – net income was $42.6 billion. Five percent of that would be a bit over $2 billion – more than I have in my pocket, but only about one-third of 1 percent of the $600 billion the industry wrote that year.

Here are a couple of other things to consider about insurers and taxes:

  • Insurance companies pay a wide variety of rates. They pay one rate on underwriting profits, another on dividends from preferred stock, another on bond payments and yet another on municipal bond payments which are almost, but not quite, tax-free. The headline rate fell considerably, but many of the other rates didn’t change at all.
  • Some companies may get a tax increase. Foreign-based groups that have historically ceded a portion of their U.S. business to an offshore affiliate based outside the U.S. are now subject to the Base Erosion and Anti-Abuse Tax – call it BEAT. However, the reduction in the overall tax rate may offset the other changes, depending on each company’s circumstances.

It is important to understand that insurance costs will quickly adjust to the new tax reality. Insurers in the largest lines – personal auto and homeowners – adjust their rates annually – sometimes more frequently. The rate – by law – explicitly reflects every cost an insurer incurs, including taxes. When the tax law changes, insurers build the new rate into their models.

Much like any business in America, insurance will use some of the benefits to invest — in its employees, products and services — so as to improve and grow. Given the industry is the second largest financial services contributor to our economy (2.8% of GDP), employing nearly 3 million Americans, it is critical that insurers make their own decisions.  If not, then where does the line get drawn? Next, the anti-business crowd would (or perhaps already has) call on other industries to make uneconomic pricing decisions.

Update: This blog post has been changed to clarify information regarding the BEAT tax.

Swiss Re forecasts growth in insurance markets

This in from Swiss Re Institute’s Global Insurance Review 2017 and Outlook 2018/2019 report:

The cyclical upswing in the global economy is set to continue in 2018 and 2019, supporting insurance premium volume growth.

Global non-life premiums are forecast to grow by at least 3 percent annually in real terms in the next two years and life premiums by 4 percent.

Emerging markets, particularly in Asia, will remain the driver of global non-life and life premium growth, according to Swiss Re.

The Week in a Minute, 11/9/17

The III’s Michael Barry briefs our membership every week on key insurance related stories. Here are some highlights:

The Wall Street Journal reported on Monday, November 6, on how insurance companies are increasingly using private firefighter services to help protect the homes of policyholders in areas prone to wildfires. According to the article, insurers see the service as an opportunity to provide protection beyond what most people get through publicly funded firefighting.

The American Insurance Association named as its new president John Degnan, a former New Jersey attorney general and vice chairman and chief operating officer at Chubb.

Waymo has been testing driverless minivans in Phoenix, Arizona over the past month, Waymo’s CEO announced this week.


Commercial insurance rates variable: IVANS Index

Nearly all major commercial insurance lines experienced premium renewal rate increases in October, according to the IVANS Index.

In its analysis, only workers’ compensation remained in negative premium renewal rate territory, IVANS said. Business Owners Policy remains as the line of business with the highest premium renewal rate change, despite continuing its downward trend.

October rate changes include:

  •     Commercial Auto: 3.10%, up from 2.55% at the end of September.
  •     BOP: 3.57%, down from 3.87% the month prior.
  •     General Liability: 1.79%, up from 1.70% at the end of June.
  •     Commercial Property: 2.83%, up from 2.40% the month prior.
  •     Umbrella: 1.34%, down from 1.45% at the end of June.
  •     Workers’ Compensation: -2.24%, down from -1.31% the month prior.

Analyzing more than 120 million data transactions, the IVANS Index measures the premium difference year over year.

The week in a minute, 10/26/17

The III’s Michael Barry briefs our membership every week on key insurance related stories. Here are some highlights:

  • Hurricane Nate caused insured wind-caused damage totaling anywhere from less than $500 million (Risk Management Solutions) to as much as $1 billion (CoreLogic). Nate made landfall as a Category 1 storm on the Louisiana-Mississippi border on the weekend of October 7-8.



The III’s Michael Barry briefs our membership every week on key insurance related stories. Here are some highlights:

The Week in a Minute, 10/13/17

The III’s Michael Barry briefs our membership every week on key insurance related stories. Here are some highlights:

The multiple wildfires raging this week in at least seven northern California counties have caused fatalities and widespread property damage.

Hurricane Nate made landfall as a Category 1 storm on the weekend of October 7-8 and generated storm surge-caused property damage and power outages in Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama.

The number of U.S. highway fatalities rose 5.6 percent in 2016 as compared to 2015, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHSTA).

Eye on commercial insurance prices

Despite ample capital and benign claim cost trends, insurers have held the line on trading profitability for volume, while still responding as needed to emerging trends, according to Willis Towers Watson.

Its most recent Commercial Lines Insurance Pricing Survey (CLIPS) shows that commercial insurance prices in the U.S. were nearly flat in the first quarter of 2017.

Price changes reported by carriers averaged less than 1 percent for the sixth consecutive quarter.

Four lines (workers compensation, commercial property, directors and officers, and surety) showed modest price decreases.

Commercial auto remains the outlier with meaningful price increases reported.

Verisk Web Seminars: Property/Casualty Industry Results 2016: Perspectives from ISO, PCI, and I.I.I.

On-demand Webinar

The property/casualty insurance industry is facing difficult times. Underwriting gains are becoming losses, premium growth is slowing, and investment yields are shrinking. On the other hand, the industry’s surplus is reaching record highs and some lines and market segments are showing signs of growth.

In this webinar, executive leaders from ISO, PCI and the I.I.I. discuss how the insurance industry performed in 2016, and explore some key challenges and opportunities facing insurers in the years to come.

Watch this webinar now.

Presentation Date
Monday, May 8, 2017

Beth Fitzgerald
President, ISO Solutions

Robert Gordon
SVP, Policy Development & Research, Property Casualty Insurers Association of America

Sean Kevelighan
CEO, Insurance Information Institute

Demand For Commercial Insurance Up Slightly

Demand for commercial insurance continued to follow a slight upward trend in the first three months of 2017, according to the latest Council of Insurance Agents & Brokers’ Commercial P/C Market Survey.

A large number of brokers reported an increase in demand for cyber coverage as clients became more familiar with the product and more interested in purchasing stand-alone policies.

The majority of brokers, 68.5 percent, reported that demand for commercial insurance products stayed the same in the first quarter of 2017, compared to the fourth quarter of 2016.

Nearly 30 percent of broker responses saw an increase in demand, while only 2.2 percent saw a decrease.

As for pricing, the soft market continued in Q1 2017, with the average rate decline across all commercial P/C accounts at 2.5 percent, compared to 3.3 percent in Q4 2016.

This is the ninth straight quarter that commercial rates have declined across small, medium and large accounts, The Council said.

Additional I.I.I. facts and statistics on the commercial lines insurance market are available here.