Low Demand and Competition Drive Ongoing Soft Market

Latest rate surveys from the Council of Insurance Agents and Brokers (CIAB) and online insurance exchange MarketScout suggest that the weak commercial pricing environment continues. The CIAB’s latest quarterly Commercial P/C Market Index Survey indicates that rates on average fell by about 6 percent in the fourth quarter 2009, about the same rate as in the third quarter. Low demand continued to put pressure on rates as carriers competed for new business, the CIAB said. “Tough competition for new business was the name of the game last quarter as carriers chased market share in a still weak economy. Added pressure came from clients putting the squeeze on carriers to get the best terms and rates,† said Council president Ken Crerar. An overwhelming 74 percent of the brokers responding to the survey said that demand for insurance products did not improve in the fourth quarter. On average, rates for small, medium and large accounts declined slightly less than in the previous quarter. Meanwhile, MarketScout reported the average property/casualty rate decrease was 4 percent in December 2009, ending a year of slowly moderating declines. The year started with composite rate reductions of 9 percent. “Reinsurance rates were favorable for insurers renegotiating their January 1, 2010 treaties. These favorable reinsurance terms will help insurers continue their aggressive pricing strategies; however, in 2010 we do expect continued moderation in rate decreases. By the end of 2010, insurers will begin increasing rates in almost all lines of business,† said Richard Kerr, chairman and CEO of MarketScout. Check out I.I.I. information on the industry’s financial results and market conditions.

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