Already this year, three Florida insurers have been declared insolvent due to their failure to obtain full reinsurance as the 2022 hurricane season bears down.
“We have the potential of a massive failure of Florida insurers, probably the worst on record,” says Triple-I communications director Mark Friedlander. According to Friedlander, the $2 billion reinsurance fund created in legislation Gov. Ron DeSantis signed into law at the end of May isn’t nearly enough, and private reinsurers are pulling back from the market because of its high level of property claims and litigation.
“It needed to be at least double the amount of the funds that were allocated for reinsurance coverage for hurricane season and open to other perils as well,” Friedlander said.
Most recently, insurance rating agency Demotech announced that it had withdrawn its financial stability rating for Southern Fidelity Insurance Company after the insurer placed a moratorium on writing new business and processing renewals in Florida until it secured enough reinsurance for hurricane season. When the Tallahassee, Fla.-based insurer failed to do so by the June 1 start of the season, the OIR ordered it to “wind down operations,” indicating the company could become the fourth Florida residential insurer to fail this year, following the liquidations of St. Johns, Avatar, and Lighthouse.
Direct written premiums for cyber policies grew sharply in 2021 from 2020, spurred by claims activity and cyber incidents. According to a recent analysis by S&P Global Market Intelligence, direct written premiums nearly doubled, to approximately $3.15 billion in 2021, from $1.64 billion the previous year. Direct written premiums for packaged cyber insurance rose approximately 48 percent, to $1.68 billion in 2021 from $1.14 billion in 2020.
The average loss ratio for stand-alone policies decreased to 65.4 percent in 2021, from 72.5 percent in 2020, while they significantly grew premium. Analysts believe this might be a sign that insurers are becoming more disciplined and conservative in their cyber underwriting. Still, Fitch Ratings analysts noted that cyber insurance is the fastest-growing segment for U.S. property and casualty insurers, with prices increasing at “considerably higher” speed than other commercial business lines.
Cybercrime is increasing
According to the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3) 2021 Internet Crime Report, the department had 3,729 ransomware complaints, with over $49.2 million of adjusted losses. In total, there was $6.9 billion in losses coinciding with more than 2,300 average complaints daily. The most common complaint was phishing scams, demonstrating a trend that has continued for some time.
Indeed, several data points demonstrate the increasingly dire situations organizations face when it comes to cyberattacks, and the need for businesses to become more vigilant. These include:
According to one analysis by Fortune Business Insights, the compound annual growth rate of cyber insurance could increase by 25.3 percent from 2021 to 2028, with the market growing to $36.85 billion.
However, Tom Johansmeyer, a cyber insurance expert, told Harvard Business Review in March 2022, “Cyber insurance is harder for companies to find than it was a year ago – and it’s likely going to get harder. While cyber insurance is becoming more of a must-have for businesses, the explosion of ransomware and cyberattacks means it’s also becoming a less enticing business for insurers.”
Organizations should combine these policies with a strong cyber security plan to fully safeguard against the possibility and consequences of a breach.
The latest insurance underwriting projections for property/casualty lines by actuaries at the Triple-I and Milliman – an independent risk-management, benefits, and technology firm – reveal that the industry saw the 2021 combined ratio worsen by 0.8 points from 2020, driven by deterioration in the personal auto and workers compensation lines. The report, Insurance Information Institute (Triple-I) /Milliman Insurance Economics and Underwriting Projections: A Forward View, presented at a members-only event on May 12, also found that homeowners, commercial auto, commercial multi-peril, and general liability all experienced significant improvement year-over-year.
Michel Léonard, PhD, CBE, Chief Economist and Data Scientist, and head of Triple-I’s Economics and Analytics Department, discussed key macroeconomic trends impacting the property/casualty industry results. He noted that the U.S. P&C insurance industry’s performance continues to be constrained by historically high inflation, which affects replacement costs.
“The insurance industry’s performance continues to be severely constrained by macroeconomic fundamentals,” he said “The average replacement costs for P&C lines is 16.3 percent, nearly twice the U.S. average CPI of 8.5 percent.”
Léonard noted that while the Federal Reserve forecasts U.S. inflation slowing to 4.3 percent by yearend, “Triple-I expects the transition to take longer.”
Dale Porfilio, FCAS, MAAA, Chief Insurance Officer at Triple-I, noted that 2021 had the worst full-year catastrophe losses since 2017, though Q4 actuals were materially lower than prior expectation. Kentucky tornadoes and Colorado wildfires in December were part of these losses, with homeowners suffering over 60 percent of the insured losses. Hurricane Ida was the worst single event, although multiple other billion-dollar events also contributed to the 2021 insured catastrophe losses.
“Healthy premium growth observed in 2021 is likely to continue through 2024 due to the hard market,” Porfilio said, adding, “Net expense ratio at 27.0 points was the lowest in more than a decade due to premiums growing at a faster rate than expenses.”
For the P&C industry as a whole, he said to expect loss pressures to continue due to inflation and supply chain disruption.
On the commercial side, Jason B. Kurtz, FCAS, MAAA, a principal and consulting actuary at Milliman, said the commercial multi-peril 2021 combined ratio improved 3.6 points from 2020, primarily due to strong net earned premium growth, which stood at 6.3 percent year over year, from the economic recovery and a hard market.
“Despite the improvement relative to 2020, the CMP line still experienced an underwriting loss in 2021, and we expect underwriting results in 2022-2024 will continue to be adversely impacted by inflation and CAT loss pressures,” he said.
Workers compensation had another very profitable year, Kurtz said, with the 2021 combined ratio coming in at 91.8 percent, although margins shrank in 2021 and are expected to continue to shrink through 2024.
“The workers comp line has experienced seven straight years of underwriting profitability, a remarkable turn-around after eight straight years of underwriting losses,” Kurtz said. “Not surprisingly, rate increases have been hard to come by. Coupled with low unemployment, these forces will constrain premium growth for the foreseeable future.”
For commercial auto, the 2021 combined ratio improved by 3.0 points from 2020 due to lower adverse development and a two point reduction in expense ratio, according to Dave Moore, FCAS, MAAA of Moore Actuarial Consulting.
“The 2021 combined ratio dipped below 100 percent for the first time since 2010 and we’ve had the lowest expense ratio in more than a decade,” he said. “Watch for social inflation loss pressure and prior year adverse loss development in 2022-2024.”
According to projections, both personal auto and homeowners lines produced underwriting losses in 2021. Prices need to reflect the underlying risk, particularly because the economic risk is quickly escalating.
Porfilio said the 2021 combined ratio for personal auto jumped up to 101.4, the worst since 2017 and 8.9 points worse than 2020.
“While miles driven are largely back to 2019 levels, riskier driving behaviors have led to increased insured losses and fatality rates,” he said.
Overall, the loss pressures from inflation, supply-chain disruption, risky driving behavior, and increasing catastrophe losses are leading to the need for rate increases to restore both homeowners and personal auto lines to an underwriting profit, which is projected to take at least two more calendar years.
Insurers, regulators, and members of Congress have expressed concern about proposed changes in how Standard & Poor’s Global Ratings defines “available capital” in its rating criteria. Specifically, S&P would no longer consider certain debt to be counted as available for purposes of rating insurers’ financial strength and ability to pay claims.
“Disruptive” and an “overuse of market power” is how the Association of Bermuda Insurers and Reinsurers (ABIR) described the measure in an 18-page letter to S&P, which has requested comments by April 29 on its proposed methodology and assumptions for analyzing the risk-based capital adequacy of insurers and reinsurers.
S&P’s proposed changes, in ABIR’s view, would lead to the sudden removal of billions of dollars overnight that otherwise would be available to underwrite catastrophe risk – a sector in which average insured losses have risen nearly 700 percent since the 1980s.
“This debt is viewed as capital by the regulators,” ABIR CEO John Huff says in a news release. “If carriers are forced to restructure debt, they’ll get less favorable terms today. Any replacement debt will increase financial leverage, which is counter to the stability people seek from a rating agency.”
ABIR points out ambiguity in the timing of the rollout of the planned changes, saying, “Insurers and reinsurers will have no time to respond to the new debt treatment before S&P has indicated the changes will go into effect.”
“There is no glide path or grandfathering,” Huff says. “It’s just a cliff. “
Bermuda’s insurers urge the rating agency to provide a transition period for any such changes, as well as grandfathering debt that already is in place.
“If there’s a transition plan, we can work within that,” Huff says. “But having this so abrupt is quite disruptive. Standard & Poor’s should be adding stability, not causing disruption.”
Russia’s invasion of Ukraine since Feb. 24, combined with persisting supply chain disruptions related to the pandemic, continue to drive inflation as measured by the Consumer Price Index (CPI). From a property/casualty insurance perspective, these forces have a particularly strong impact on replacement costs – especially in the automotive sector.
Total P/C replacement costs represent a weighted average for the homeowners, personal and commercial auto, commercial multi-peril, general liability, and workers compensation lines. Auto replacement costs include new and used vehicles, as well as parts and labor for construction and repair.
Based on the March release of CPI data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, total P/C replacement costs rose to 16.3 percent in February – up 4.6 percent from 11.8 percent in December. That increase is 3.3 percent greater than Triple-I projected in December, before the invasion began.
While CPI growth is largely being fueled by rising gasoline prices stemming from uncertainty surrounding affairs in Eastern Europe, the key driver of replacement costs is the industry’s exposure to auto prices. New-vehicle price increases only broke double-digits in the fourth quarter of last year; however, used-vehicle price inflation has been above 25 percent in nine of the past 12 months.
“Despite fuel imports from Ukraine and Russia making up only a single-digit percentage of U.S. energy consumption, gasoline prices will likely remain elevated as speculation over OPEC exports, alternative fuel sources for Central Europe, long-term profitability of domestic drilling operations, and rising food-insecurity in fuel exporting counties in the Middle East continue,” said Dr. Michel Léonard, Triple-I’s chief economist and data scientist and head of its Economics and Analytics Department. “At the same time, new vehicle prices can be expected to keep rising as Russian exports of nickel and palladium cease.”
Russian exports of these metals – critical to automotive construction – account for 15 percent and 20 percent, respectively, of the global market.
Dramatic increases in used vehicle prices are common during and after economic corrections and recessions, Léonard said, adding that these elevated prices usually resolve themselves within 24 months of the end of the downturn. Assuming the supply-chain situation improves and the U.S. economy doesn’t slip back into recession, used vehicle price growth is likely to fall back in line with new vehicle inflation over the next 12 months.
The profitability of the U.S. property/casualty insurance industry is expected to remain under pressure, according to the latest underwriting projections released by Triple-I and Milliman actuaries. Speaking at a members only webinar yesterday, the actuaries said this is due to continued deterioration in personal lines.
The sector’s combined ratio – the most commonly used measure of underwriting profitability – is seen running at an estimated 101.3 combined ratio for 2021. A combined ratio under 100 percent indicates an underwriting profit, and one above 100 percent indicates a loss.
Dr. Michel Léonard, vice president, senior economist, and head of Triple-I’s Economics and Analytics Department, said the industry’s performance continues to be “significantly constrained” by higher-than-average inflation and lower underlying growth.
Dale Porfilio, Triple-I chief insurance officer, noted that the insurance industry had the worst full-year catastrophe losses since 2017 with the Texas freeze, Hurricane Ida, wildfires and tornadoes.
“Healthy premium growth in 2022 and 2023 is possible from an economic recovery and a hard market,” he said, noting however, that uncertainty from COVID-19 continues to put pressure on rates and profitability. “Inflation, supply chain, and riskier insured behavior are also contributing to loss pressures.”
On the personal auto side, Porfilio said the 2021 estimated combined ratio has increased to 99.9 due to deteriorating non-catastrophe loss trends combined with excess catastrophe losses.
“Loss pressures forecast for 2022 and 2023 will likely result in profitability similar to pre-pandemic levels,” he said. “Miles driven are back to 2019 levels, but with riskier driving behaviors such as speeding and impaired driving.”
On the commercial auto side, underwriting losses are forecast to continue through 2023, but improve year-over-year said Dave Moore, president and consulting actuary at Moore Actuarial Consulting.
“We continue to observe a significant rebound in premium growth due to the economic recovery and the hard market,” Moore said. He cited a recent paper published by Triple-I, funded by a research grant from the Casualty Actuarial Society (CAS), that quantifies the impact of “social inflation” on commercial auto liability claims.
“Based on this research, we estimate that social inflation increased commercial auto liability claims by more than $20 billion between 2010 and 2019,” Moore said. “This can be influenced by a variety of factors, including negative public sentiment about larger corporations, litigation funding, and tort reform rollbacks.”
Jason B. Kurtz, a principal and consulting actuary at Milliman, said general liability underwriting losses are expected to continue, but profitability should improve due to rate increases. Looking at the workers compensation line, Kurtz noted that underwriting profits continue, although margins continue to shrink.
“The pandemic recession, remote work, and economic recovery are still impacting volume and location of workers comp risk,” he said. “Claim frequency remains below pre-pandemic levels and if the trend of large reserve releases on prior accident years continues, 2021 is likely to be another profitable year.”
Insurance industry decision makers and thought leaders gathered yesterday for the Triple-I Joint Industry Forum (JIF) in New York City to share insights on managing risk in the post-pandemic world.
The in-person, daylong program was conducted in accordance with New York City’s COVID-19 protocols. Topics ranged from climate and cyber risk and the impact of “runaway litigation” on insurer losses and policyholder premiums to the challenges and opportunities presented by “the Great Resignation” for acquiring and nurturing talent in the industry.
The panels featured speakers from across the insurance world, academia, and media. Watch this space next week for panel wrap-ups.
By Loretta Worters, Vice President, Media Relations, Triple-I
The property/casualty insurance industry will run at an estimated 101 combined ratio for 2021, slightly worse than what was projected three months ago, putting pressure on rates and profitability, according to the latest underwriting projections by Triple-I and Milliman actuaries.
The industry is projected to experience 7.7 percent net written premium growth in 2021, followed by 5.2 percent in 2022 and 5.5 percent in 2023, due to the economic recovery and hard market.
The quarterly report, Insurance Information Institute (Triple-I) / Milliman P/C Underwriting Projections: 2021-2023, was presented at an exclusive members only virtual webinar moderated by Triple-I CEO Sean Kevelighan.
Triple-I Chief Insurance Officer Dale Porfilio explained that the 2021 estimated combined ratio – a measure of insurance company underwriting profitability — worsened from prior quarterly analysis “primarily because actual third-quarter catastrophe losses were worse than expected, with Hurricane Ida being the most destructive event.“
The 2021 year-to-date catastrophes are now the worst since 2017, when Harvey, Irma, and Maria all struck the U.S., Porfilio said.
He added that “healthy premium growth is projected for 2021-2023, as a result of economic recovery and a hard market” – an extended period of increasing premiums and decreasing capacity. Porfilio noted, however, that “insureds will continue to face rate pressure from the uncertainty of the pandemic.”
On the personal auto side, Porfilio said personal auto experienced improving combined ratios from 2016 through 2020, with 2020 heavily influenced by the lower miles driven during the pandemic.
“With miles driven in 2021 back to 2019 levels, we expect combined ratios to also return to pre-pandemic levels,” he said. “The greater concern for the entire industry is the observed riskier driving behaviors, such as impaired driving, speeding, and failure to wear seatbelts, leading to more severe accidents and increased fatalities.”
Looking at the commercial side, Jason B. Kurtz, a principal and consulting actuary at Milliman – an independent risk-management, benefits, and technology firm – said the hard market persisted in the third quarter, particularly in commercial product lines.
For commercial multiple-peril insurers, Kurtz said, “We are currently estimating a 2021 combined ratio of 109 percent. This line got off to a difficult start in the first quarter due in part to the Texas freeze event, resulting in a historically high first quarter incurred loss ratio on a direct of reinsurance basis.”
Turning to workers compensation, Kurtz noted that underwriting profits will continue, although margins are shrinking. “The pandemic recession significantly impacted premium volumes, but we are finally seeing premium growth again with the economic recovery,” he said.
In commercial auto, underwriting losses are forecast to continue through 2023, said Dave Moore president of Moore Actuarial Consulting. “We believe social inflation is playing a role in these combined ratios remaining above 100 percent despite many successive years of steady rate increases,” he said. “We continue to observe a significant rebound in premium growth due to the economic recovery and the hard market driving rate increases.”
Moore added that Triple-I will be publishing research later in the month on social inflation, funded by a research grant from the Casualty Actuarial Society (CAS). “We estimate social inflation increased commercial auto liability claims expense by roughly $20 billion for accident years 2010 – 2019.”
Michel Léonard, vice president, senior economist, and head of Triple-I’s Economics and Analytics Department, discussed the economic drivers of insurance performance for 2021 and going into 2022. He noted that the insurance industry is expected to grow by 3.4 percent in 2021, 2.4 percent below U.S. real GDP growth of 5.8 percent.
“This aligns with historical trends whereby the insurance industry declines less than the overall economy going into downturns but lags national averages during recoveries,” he said, adding, “Going into Q4, as more 2021 data becomes available, the more cool-headed forecasts for overall U.S. growth and inflation have prevailed. While both remain higher than usual on a year-over-year basis, overall U.S. growth is still falling short of making up for the growth lost to the pandemic over the last two years.”
With the 2021 Atlantic hurricane season nearly over, it is on track to be an above-average season with a total of 21 named storms (trailing only 2020 and 2005 for the most named storms in a single season), according to Dr. Philip Klotzbach, research scientist in the Department of Atmospheric Science at Colorado State University.
Klotzbach, who is also a Triple-I Non-Resident Scholar, gave his updated projections for the 2021 hurricane season, which officially ends on November 30. He noted that the season had seven hurricanes and four major hurricanes. “The most significant hurricane of the 2021 season was Hurricane Ida, which resulted in nearly 100 fatalities and $65 billion in total damage for the United States,” Klotzbach said. “In addition to devastating storm surge and strong winds near where the storm made landfall along the central Louisiana coast, Ida brought catastrophic flooding to the mid-Atlantic states, highlighting the significant impacts that hurricanes can generate well inland.”
From financial economists’ exuberant growth forecasts early in the year to central bankers’ coining of the term “transitory” inflation to pushback against Federal Reserve “tapering”,credible economists have never diverged so widely in their economic outlooks as they have in 2021, says Dr. Michel Léonard, head of Triple-I’s Economics & Analytics department.
Léonard is author of Triple-I’s fourth-quarter insurance economic outlook report,Soft Landing, Headwinds and Rebound. The quarterly report is available to Triple-I members only at economics.iii.org and is a companion publication to Triple-I’s Insurance Economics Dashboard. Non-members interested in learning about membership can contact Deena Snell.
Triple-I’s analysis translates broad economic growth drivers into business line-specific terms. So, while the insurance industry is expected to show a 3.4 percent growth rate in 2021, Léonard says, it will underperform overall U.S. GDP growth of 5.8 percent because it is “constrained by its ties to industries with growth rates significantly below and inflation rates significantly above the U.S. rates overall.”
According to the report, concerns about “runaway inflation” subsided in the second half of 2021 as prices for most goods in the consumer supply index (CPI) trended lower and overall inflation peaked at 4 percent. However, for a basket of goods whose prices tend to affect insurance claims and losses – think automobiles and replacement parts, among others – inflation remained above 10 percent. This is due primarily to supply-chain and labor-force disruptions.
As a result, the Triple-I report sees the insurance industry’s combined ratio increasing (underwriting profitability falling) due to low underlying growth and high line-specific inflation. It also sees the industry’s 2021 investment returns outpacing 2020’s, despite headwinds.
By Loretta Worters, Vice President, Media Relations, Triple-I
Property/casualty insurers are projected to have less-than-stellar underwriting profits in 2021, according to a forecast released today by the Insurance Information Institute (Triple-I) and risk-management firm Milliman.
The forecast – presented in a members-only webinar,“Triple-I /Milliman Underwriting Projections: A Forward View,” moderated by Triple-I CEO Sean Kevelighan – projects a 2021 combined ratio of 99.6. Combined ratio is the percentage of each premium dollar an insurer spends on claims and expenses.
The industry ended 2020 profitably, with a combined ratio of 98.7. Combined ratios for 2022 and 2023 are projected to be 98.9 and 99.3, respectively.
Losses from atypical weather events in the first quarter – particularly, the Texas freeze – got the year off to a rough start, explained Dave Moore of Moore Actuarial Consulting.
Natural catastrophe losses at a decade high
“Insured losses from natural disasters worldwide hit a 10-year high of $42 billion in the first half of 2021, with the biggest loss related to extreme cold in the United States in February,” Moore said, citing Aon statistics. “Overall, catastrophe loss estimates are in the $15 billion to $20 billion range for the Texas freeze event, and the rest of the year doesn’t look promising for CAT losses overall. Extreme weather this spring brought multi-billion-dollar thunderstorm and hail losses, and the extreme drought in the West has helped fuel another severe wildfire season.”
Jason B. Kurtz, FCAS, MAAA, a principal and consulting actuary at Milliman – an independent risk-management, benefits, and technology firm – said the current hard insurance market will persist, particularly in lines that have been hit hard by social inflation. A hard market is defined as a period of increasing premiums and decreasing insurance capacity.
Premium growth for the industry is projected to hit 7 percent in 2021. Growth is expected to slow in 2022 and 2023 but will remain above 5 percent both years.
“Lines like commercial auto, commercial multiperil, and general liability will still struggle to get their combined ratios under 100,” he said. “With ransomware attacks on the rise and tightening capacity, cyber bears watching, and homeowners insurers will have another tough year in 2021, but we predict improvement for 2022 and 2023.”
Michel Léonard, PhD, CBE, vice president, senior economist, and head of Triple-I’s Economics and Analytics Department, took a preliminary look at property/casualty industry results for 2021 and trends for the rest of the year. He noted that insurance outperformed the overall economy in 2019 and 2020 but was not likely to do as well in 2021.
“Right now, economists seem to be shifting growth from 2022 to 2021. That’s not good for insurance because of our industry’s business cycles. Shifting this growth means we are not expected to outperform the wider economy in 2021– but we are in 2022. What’s best for our industry is growth increasing, not decreasing, from 2021 to 2022.”
Regarding wildfire season, Roy Wright, president and CEO of the Insurance Institute for Business & Home Safety (IBHS), noted that as the climate changes and the population expands into the wildland urban interface, wildfires are intersecting suburban life. Wildfire losses continue to mount year after year and make clear the need for communities to adapt, he said.
Commercial auto insurance has been hit harder by litigation trends than any other line of business, according to David Corum, vice president at the Insurance Research Council (IRC).
“We estimate broadly that social inflation increased commercial auto liability claims by more than $8 billion between 2010 and 2019,” Corum said. “We are also seeing evidence that social inflation is becoming a factor in personal auto claims.” He noted that a soon-to-be-released paper by the Triple-I, Moore Actuarial Consulting, and the Casualty Actuarial Society will address this topic more broadly.
Pat Sullivan, senior editor and conference co-chair at Risk Information Inc., explained that commercial auto insurers spent the last few years trying to price themselves into profitability with little success.
Sullivan noted that COVID-19 wasn’t great for growth: “Commercial auto direct written premiums rose about one percent in 2020, compared to 12 percent in 2019, 13 percent in 2018, and 9 percent in 2017. Commercial auto’s underlying claims issues haven’t gone away.”
COVID-19 and business interruption
The past 15 months have been extraordinary from a legal perspective on COVID-19 business interruption claims, according to Michael Menapace, partner, Wiggin and Dana LLP and Triple-I Non-Resident Scholar.
“To date, 80 percent of the judicial decisions have dismissed policyholders’ claims without regard to whether the presence of SARS-CoV-2 or the government shutdown orders were the cause of their losses, Menapace said. That dismissal rate goes up to 95 percent when the policies also include a virus exclusion.”
“There have been some outlier business interruption decisions in favor of policyholders and some less favorable jurisdictions for insurers that we are watching,” he said. “Insurers must also remain vigilant by pushing back against proposals by state legislatures or executive agencies that would change the terms of insurance contracts to provide coverage where none was intended and for which no premium was paid.”
Looking forward, Menapace said the trend of dismissals in the trial courts should continue.
“There has been only one appellate court decision concerning business interruption coverage,” he said. “But, over the next 12-18 months, the focus will start shifting to state and federal appellate courts, which will have the final say on many of these issues.”
Atlantic hurricane season
Dr Phil Klotzbach, research scientist in the Department of Atmospheric Science at Colorado State University and Triple-I Non-Resident Scholar, gave his updated projections for the 2021 hurricane season.
Klotzbach noted that 2021 is expected to have an above-normal Atlantic hurricane season, with 18 named storms, eight of which will become hurricanes. Of those eight, four will likely become major hurricanes (category 3, 4, or 5 with winds of a 111 mph or greater). That compares with the long-term average of about 14 named storms, seven hurricanes and three major hurricanes.