US Property/Casualty Pricing in Early Stages of Hard Market: Survey

NEW YORK—The U.S. property/casualty insurance industry is in the early stages of a hard market, according to a survey of industry executives released Wednesday by the Insurance Information Institute Inc.

In fact, 72% of the attendees who responded to the survey at the Property/Casualty Insurance Joint Industry Forum this week in New York said the industry is in the early stages of a hard market, while only 28% said it is not.

In addition, 75% of the respondents said they expect an improvement in profitability.

But the projected improvement will not occur across the board. While 72% said they expect an improvement in the profitability of commercial lines other than workers compensation, 55% said they do not expect an improvement in workers comp profitability.

Two-thirds expect premium growth

In general, 67% of the respondents said they believe that premium growth will be higher, 31% percent believe it will remain flat, and only 2% percent believe it will decline.

Seventy-eight percent of the respondents said they believe that the industry’s combined ratio will be lower in 2012 than it was in 2011.

According to a report last month by the Insurance Services Office Inc. and the Property Casualty Insurers Assn. of America, the industry’s combined ratio for the first nine months of 2011 stood at 109.9%, reflecting unusually heavy catastrophe losses.

More than two-thirds of the respondents said they do not believe that there will be an increase in consolidation among insurers and reinsurers this year.

The respondents were decidedly agnostic about the performance of the new Federal Insurance Office. Only 13% said the office is off to a good start, 2% said that it is not and the remaining 85% said it was too early to tell.

The survey was based on the responses of approximately 40% of the nearly 250 industry representatives who attended the forum.

Credit: Mark A. Hofmann at

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