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NEW YORK--Global multiline insurers face a more challenging environment this year as a softening market puts underwriting discipline to the test, says rating agency Standard & Poor's Corp. in a special report.
With average rates falling at high single-digit or double-digit levels, "there is mounting evidence that companies are increasingly willing to relax terms and conditions and to further increase coverage," said the report by the New York-based rating agency.
"We expect the weakening phase of the cycle to continue through 2007, with the view that markets might start bottoming out by the end of 2008," says the report.
The report also said weather-related losses and the recent United Kingdom floods "are a painful reminder that there will be no repeat of 2006, a year when the number of large natural disasters was exceptionally low."
Ratings on global multiline insurers "are expected to withstand these more adverse conditions, but could nevertheless come under pressure if groups with a substantial exposure to property/casualty markets fail to demonstrate strong underwriting discipline throughout the cycle," said the report.
Copies of the report, called "Global Multiline Insurers Brace for a Testing Second-Half 2007 as Property/Casualty Market Languishes," are available to subscribers of RatingsDirect at www.ratingsdirect.com. Nonsubscribers may purchase the report for $400 by calling 212-438-9823 or by sending an e-mail to email@example.com.