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The property/casualty insurance industry has entered an “unusual” period, according to an analysis by Keefe, Bruyette & Woods Inc.
In “2012 Outlook: Are We There Yet?” New York-based KBW notes that insurer capital remains plentiful and pricing is improving from the perspective of insurers, but that return on equity appears likely to decline.
“What is historically unusual is that this shift is occurring despite solid capital positions, which are allowing many leading players to buy back stock,” KBW said in the report dated Sunday.
The report's authors said they believe the industry is reacting to “increasingly common ‘unusual' large-loss events” and other pressures on earnings.
The report projects that rate increases will be moderate, not uniform and “not in any way a traditional hard market.” Well-positioned insurers might find such an environment to be “a boon, but for others, it simply won't be enough,” said KBW.
Last month, KBW released an analysis of third-quarter property/casualty insurers saying that while pricing might be improving, underwriting results continue to be weak.