Posted on 18 Mar 2010
Operating profits improved substantially during 2009 across the U.S. property and casualty (P&C) insurance industry, with most market participants reporting double-digit operating returns on capital, according to Fitch Ratings in a new report.
A Fitch review of 2009 GAAP results reported by P&C insurers showed that significant unrealized investment gains combined with an improved operating performance during the period led to a 28% increase in aggregated GAAP equity for Fitch's universe of 52 P&C (re)insurers.
While realized investment losses continued to dampen the group's overall performance, their affect was greatly reduced relative to the prior year. Only three companies reported an annual net loss in 2009 versus 18 companies one year ago.
The group's net earnings were greatly exceeded by a substantial shift in unrealized investment gains during 2009. As a result, many companies ended 2009 with GAAP equity bases comparable to levels reported at year-end 2007, before the tumultuous events of 2008 caused most insurance market participants to suffer significant declines in the value of invested assets.
Fitch's report compiles GAAP 2009 financial results for its universe of publicly traded (re)insurers. The report analyzes results for the group on the whole and various industry subsectors, comparing relative performance and considering the primary drivers of profitability and capital formation for 2009.