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Commercial prices up sharply in first quarter: Willis

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Aggregate commercial insurance pricing changes topped 6% for the first quarter, compared with the year-earlier period, according to Willis Towers Watson PLC’s Commercial Lines Insurance Pricing Survey, released Monday.

It was the second-consecutive quarter in which aggregate price changes reported by insurers exceeded 6% and continued a firming trend over the past several quarters, Willis said.

Prices rose nearly 2% for all four quarters of 2018 and the first quarter of 2019, climbing to almost 4% in the second quarter, almost 5% in the third quarter, and finally to over 6% for the past two quarters, the broker said.

Data for nearly all lines indicated significant price increases in the first quarter. The largest increases came in the excess/umbrella liability and directors and officers liability lines, both of which have seen “significantly accelerating increases over the past three quarters,” Willis said.

Commercial auto coverage was up near or above double digits for the 10th consecutive quarter, while property coverage saw near double-digit increases for the fourth consecutive quarter, Willis said.

Specialty lines price increases in aggregate were above double digits for the second consecutive quarter, Willis said.

Only workers compensation was down, “though the decreases have tempered somewhat for each of the last five quarters,” Willis said.

Reported price changes were more muted for small commercial accounts, higher for mid-market accounts, and approaching double digits for large accounts

“During the first quarter of 2020 we saw a continuation of substantial price increases for excess/umbrella and directors and officers liability,” said Alejandra Nolibos, senior director, insurance consulting and technology, Willis Towers Watson, in a statement released with the report.