Posted on 18 Mar 2009
According to the Standard & Poor's Ratings Services analysis, personal lines insurers have fared no differently than the overall property/casualty industry in the down economy.
Personal lines insurers it rates "will likely bear some adverse results, but less so than the national peer group due to more concentrated strategies and significantly smaller and less diverse asset bases," according to the analysis.
"We are expecting to see full-year underwriting results for the personal lines sector shift to the loss column in 2008 from a profitable combined ratio in 2007, significantly lower investment income, a material deterioration in capital adequacy, and weaker financial flexibility," said Standard & Poor's credit analyst Neil Stein in a prepared statement.
Despite these expectations and the short-term uncertainties of the general economic environment, the ratings service said it believes the long-term fundamental strength of the personal lines sector overall remains intact.
"All of the companies reviewed here possess a strategy and commitment to the personal lines business and maintain brand name recognition in their chosen geography or market niche," Stein said.
He added that like their national peer group, the insurers they rate in personal lines are focused on disciplined underwriting practices, which have become more important as insurers become less dependent on investment income. In addition, despite their smaller size, these companies are skillful at specifically targeting the needs of the markets they serve, have the potential to generate respectable earnings, and generally have good balance-sheet quality, relatively strong capital, and sufficient liquidity to withstand the current market turmoil, he said.