A Firm Foundation: How Insurance Supports the Economy

  • U.S. insurance industry net premiums written totaled $1.2 trillion in 2017, with premiums recorded by life/health (L/H) insurers accounting for 52 percent, and premiums by property/casualty (P/C) insurers accounting for 48 percent, according to S&P Global Market Intelligence.
  • P/C insurance consists primarily of auto, home and commercial insurance. Net premiums written for the sector totaled $558.2 billion in 2017.
  • Health insurance is generally considered separately. The sector includes private health insurance companies as well as government programs. P/C and L/H insurers also write some health insurance.
  • Although most private health insurance is written by companies that specialize in that line of business, life/health and property/casualty insurers also write this coverage, referred to as accident and health insurance on their annual statements. Total private health insurance direct written premiums were $867.5 billion in 2017, including: $670.1 billion from the health insurance segment; $190.8 billion from the life/health segment; and $6.5 billion from property/casualty annual statements, according to S&P Global Market Intelligence.
  • There were 5,954 insurance companies in 2017 in the U.S. and its territories. According to the National Association of Insurance Commissioners those were comprised of the following: P/C (2,509); life/annuities (852); health (907); fraternal (82); title (58); risk retention groups (240) and other companies (1,306).
  • Insurance carriers and related activities contributed $602.7 billion, or 3.1 percent, to the nation’s gross domestic product (GDP) in 2017, according to the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis.
  • The U.S. insurance industry employed 2.7 million people in 2018, according to the U.S. Department of Labor. Of those, 1.5 million worked for insurance companies, including life and health insurers (870,600 workers), P/C insurers (621,800 workers) and reinsurers (29,100 workers). The remaining 1.2 million people worked for insurance agencies, brokers and other insurance-related enterprises.
  • Total P/C cash and invested assets were $1.69 trillion in 2017, according to S&P Global Market Intelligence. L/H cash and invested assets totaled $4.07 trillion in 2017. The total of cash and invested assets for both sectors was $5.77 trillion. The majority of these assets were in bonds (58 percent of P/C assets and 73 percent of L/H assets).
  • P/C and L/H insurance companies paid $21 billion in premium taxes in 2017, or $64 for every person living in the United States, according to the U.S. Department of Commerce.
  • P/C insurers paid out $101.9 billion in property losses related to catastrophes in 2017, according to the Property Claims Services (PCS) division of Verisk Analytics, the highest payout since PCS began collecting insured loss data in 1949. The $101.9 billion in losses in 2017 was 370 percent higher than $21.7 billion in 2016. There were 46 catastrophes in 2017, compared with 42 in 2016.

U.S. P/C And L/A Insurance Premiums, 2018 (1)

($ billions)

(1) Property/casualty: net premiums written after reinsurance transactions, excludes state funds; life/annuity: premiums, annuity considerations (fees for annuity contracts) and deposit-type funds. Both sectors include accident and health insurance.

Source: NAIC data, sourced from S&P Global Market Intelligence, Insurance Information Institute.

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