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Commercial insurance prices flat in fourth quarter

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Commercial insurance prices in the U.S. were nearly flat during the fourth quarter of 2016 as prices increased less than 1% for the fifth consecutive quarter, Willis Towers Watson P.L.C. said Monday in a report.

The insurance broker’s most recent Commercial Lines Insurance Pricing Survey compared prices charged on policies written during the fourth quarter of 2016 with those charged for the same coverage during the equivalent quarter in 2015.

Willis said that workers compensation and commercial property saw modest price decreases, while directors and officers data continued to suggest more significant, albeit moderating, price reductions. 

In contrast, Willis said, commercial auto once again saw “meaningful price increases.” For most other lines, price increase percentages were in the low single digits. Price changes were fairly similar across segments, though slightly negative for large accounts and marginally positive for small and midmarket accounts.

“The rapid growth in the rate of price increases seen in 2012 has since slowed for much of the commercial market, but not for commercial auto. This line’s cumulative price increase since 2012 is over 25%, compared to about 10% for the surveyed commercial market as a whole,” Alejandra Nolibos, director in Willis Towers Watson’s Americas property/casualty Insurance practice, said in a statement. “Loss experience has been benign for many of the other lines, but the dynamics of the auto business are changing quickly and dramatically, ultimately driving challenging results and rate need for the line.”

Willis said the most recent survey used data from 42 participating insurers representing roughly 20% of the U.S. commercial insurance market, excluding state workers compensation funds.