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Property/casualty insurers need to contend again in 2015 with soft market

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NEW YORK — The commercial property insurance sector faces the challenge of continued softening rates, while prudently managing reserve releases to prop up profit in 2015, according to industry experts.

They offered their assessments during a panel discussion called "View From the Outside Looking In," at the Insurance Information Institute Inc.'s Property/Casualty Insurance Joint Industry Forum Tuesday in New York.

The outlook for the property/casualty sector is negative, said Matthew Mosher, senior vice president-global ratings, for A.M. Best Co. Inc. He cited reserve release issues as a potential problem for commercial property/casualty insurers.

Reserve releases could be a drag in 2015, said V.J. Dowling, managing partner at Dowling & Partners Securities L.L.C.

"We're taking out faster than we're putting in," said Mr. Dowling of the billions in reserve releases insurers booked in 2014.

The property/casualty insurance industry still offers opportunity for investors, however.

“This is still an attractive area for traditional investors," said Thomas Leonardi, senior insurance adviser at Evercore Partners Inc. and a former Connecticut insurance commissioner.