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Premium rates drop further in first quarter

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Premium rates drop further in first quarter

Commercial property/casualty premiums for all sizes of accounts dropped sharply during the first quarter of 2007, according to the Council of Insurance Agents & Brokers' Commercial Property/Casualty Market Index released last week.

According to the CIAB, nine out of 10 respondents said that large account premiums were down by between 1% and 30% during the first three months of this year compared with last year.

81% of the respondents said that their small account premiums dropped between 1% and 30% during the first three months of the year, while 97% reported the same range of decline for their medium accounts.

An analysis of the findings by Lehman Brothers Equity Research put the average premium decrease at 11.3%.

The Lehman analysis said premiums for all sizes of accounts were at their lowest point since they peaked in the fourth quarter of 2001 following the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorism attacks.

The decrease in rates is part of a trend that intensified in the first quarter of this year, according to the CIAB.

"Although the premium rate decreases have been evident in the last several market index surveys, this was the first time that less restrictive underwriting was widely reported. Brokers and agents from every section of the country said carriers were writing and quoting accounts that a year ago they would not consider," the CIAB said in a statement.

The survey is available www.ciab.com.