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Average fourth-quarter 2010 renewal premiums for commercial property/casualty insurance were fairly flat compared with a year earlier, the Risk & Insurance Management Society Inc. said in a survey released Monday.
In fact, the “RIMS Benchmark Survey” found that directors and officers liability insurance was the only line tracked that had a material decrease, where premiums dropped 4.6% from a year earlier. The survey found that large companies with revenues of more than $1 billion experienced larger drops in D&O premiums, 5.1%, than smaller companies, where premiums fell 2.4%.
General liability, property and workers compensation policies renewed during the final quarter of 2010 with “essentially no change” in premium, RIMS said in a statement about the survey, which was administered by New York-based Advisen Ltd. That contrasts with 2009, where general liability and workers compensation premiums dropped at least 5% in fourth-quarter renewals compared to those of a year earlier.
Unlike with D&O during 2010, company size was not a meaningful factor in general liability, property and workers comp pricing, RIMS said.
Some slowing in the rate of decrease was evident in third-quarter renewals. But David Bradford, Advisen executive vp and editor-in-chief of the survey, said that the fourth-quarter results probably do not signal a hardening market.
“After seven years of falling premiums, I am sure underwriters welcome signs that the soft market will eventually bottom out,” Mr. Bradford said in the statement. “The fourth quarter, however, was probably a temporary lull rather than the harbinger of higher rates anytime soon.”
Citing the Great Recession, he said the market still is “significantly overcapitalized,” and insurance demand is weak.
“We have seen more carriers exercising underwriting discipline—walking away from business that does not meet their pricing targets—but it is still a very competitive market,” Robert Cartwright, loss prevention manager for Bridgestone Americas Holding Inc. in Exton, Pa., and a member of the RIMS board of directors, said in the statement.
He said that while premiums have stabilized in recent quarters, they still lag 2003-2004. “In some lines, they are back to where they were during the soft market of the 1990s. It remains a buyer’s market,” Mr. Cartwright said.
Advisen analyzes data submitted online either directly from risk managers and other buyers of commercial insurance or from their brokers. The results are available online or in an annually published book. Visit www.RIMS.org/benchmark for details.