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A.M. Best: P/C Income Up in 2010 Despite Underwriting Lag

Posted on 18 May 2011

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The U.S. property/casualty (P/C) industry continued to face significant hurdles throughout 2010 that included continued competitive market conditions, weak macroeconomic factors, elevated catastrophe-related losses and a low interest rate environment. Its 2010 investment results benefited from improved market valuations, however, this was offset by underwriting results deteriorating rather sharply compared with those of 2009.

In 2010:

-- The industry's net income increased approximately 12% to $44.1 billion for the year, compared with $39.5 billion for the year-ended December 31, 2009.

-- Net premiums written grew 1.1%; the first increase the industry recorded since 2006.

-- U.S. P/C insurers posted a statutory combined ratio of 100.8, compared with a combined ratio of 98.7 in 2009.

-- The U.S. P/C industry's policyholder surplus position grew 9.0% to $560.1 billion from $513.8 billion in 2009, representing the highest level ever reached for the industry's capital level.

-- The industry's overall net investment gains increased approximately 34% to $56.7 billion from $42.4 billion in 2009.

A.M Best Co. expects more of the same in 2011 despite positive pricing across the personal lines segment and slowly improving economic conditions. Insurers will continue to face near-term challenges and should expect deteriorating underwriting results and lower investment returns. As a result, the industry's bottom line is projected to be under continued pressure in 2011.