The U.S. property/casualty (P/C) industry’s net income after taxes plunged 29.3% to $9.0 billion in the first quarter of 2011, driven primarily by an underwriting loss of $3.6 billion, attributable to an unusually high level of catastrophe-related losses and to a lesser extent, diminished reserve releases.
The industry reported a statutory combined ratio of 102.3 in the three months ended March 31, 2011, up from 99.3 during the same prior year period, and the industry’s investment performance was down. Still, balance sheets remained generally strong, and the industry’s policyholders’ surplus increased to a record $561.2 billion at March 31, 2011.
*The U.S. P/C industry’s top line sustained a recent upward trend through the first quarter of 2011, with net premiums written increasing in all three major segments—personal lines, commercial lines and U.S. reinsurance.
*Underwriting results showed a modest profit in the personal lines segment, but the commercial lines and U.S. reinsurance segments both reported underwriting losses through the first quarter of the year.
*Investment results were mixed through the first quarter, showing the lingering effects of the financial crisis through the low interest rate environment, which continues to impact fixed-income portfolios.
*The U.S. P/C industry kept up a prolonged run of reserve releases through the first quarter of 2011, continuing to mask weak underwriting results that are certain to emerge from the most recent accident years, especially for the commercial lines segment.