Auto Spend Down

Countrywide average expenditures  for auto insurance declined by 1.3 percent in 2005, the first drop since 1999, according to a September 2007 report from the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC). That’s good news for the many millions of drivers in the U.S. and underscores the point made by I.I.I. president Dr. Robert Hartwig in his recent commentary on the industry’s first-half 2007 results that falling insurance prices are lowering the cost of driving a car (as well as doing business and owning a home) for most Americans. In our annual auto insurance forecast the I.I.I. has highlighted the slowdown in auto insurance costs over the past several years. Fewer auto accidents due to better drivers and safer cars, crackdowns on fraud and advances in technology are some of the key reasons behind this trend. For state-by-state auto insurance cost comparisons, check out I.I.I.’s auto insurance facts & stats online.

Illuminating Surplus Lines

Phrases like non-admitted or non-standard are enough to give any market a complex, but as is widely known, surplus lines insurers perform a vital role by assuming risks that licensed companies decline to insure or will only insure at a very high price. With that in mind the latest figures indicating that despite the soft market, the surplus lines share of the commercial insurance market grew again in 2006, might come as a bit of a surprise. In fact A.M. Best reports that surplus lines insurers benefited from the one notable soft market exception: catastrophe-exposed coastal property. It also notes that the growth of the surplus lines market as a percentage of total commercial lines premiums has increased steadily over the past two decades, from 5.4 percent in 1986 to 14.4 percent in 2006. How to sustain that growth in the coming year is likely to be one of the discussion points at the annual meeting of the National Association of Professional Surplus Lines Offices (NAPSLO) in New Orleans this week. For more on the surplus lines market, what it is and how it operates, check out I.I.I.’s commercial insurance site.