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Commercial property/casualty insurance rates down 4% in December

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Commercial property/casualty insurance rates declined an average 4% in December, MarketScout reported Tuesday.

According to the Dallas-based electronic insurance exchange, no line of business it tracks registered a rate increase compared with the same month year earlier, with umbrella and workers compensation insurance experiencing the sharpest drop at 4%.

All industry classes enjoyed declines as well, with habitational accounts registering an average 5% drop. All size accounts enjoyed lower rates, with large accounts — those generating between $250,000 and $1 million in premium — experiencing the largest decline at 5%.

“Market cycles are part of our life, be it insurance, real estate, interest rates or the price of oil,” said MarketScout CEO Richard Kerr in a statement accompanying the report. “Market cycles are going to occur without question. The only questions are when, how much and how long.”

“It seems the length and veracity of the market cycles has become less volatile in the last five or six years,” Mr. Kerr added. “Thus, the impact of a hard or soft market in today's environment may be 5% or 6% up or down. Can you imagine how we would react today in a market such as that of July 2002 when the composite rate was up 32%? Or in December 2007 when the composite rate was down 16%? Underwriters today have better tools to price their products and forecast losses.”

He added that there “may be less excitement, but there are probably far fewer CEO heart attacks.”