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Commercial lines insurance rates increased in first quarter of 2012: Marsh

Commercial lines insurance rates increased in first quarter of 2012: Marsh

Rates for commercial lines insurance generally increased during the first quarter of 2012, according to a report issued by New York-based Marsh & McLennan Cos. Inc.'s Marsh Inc. unit Tuesday.

Despite the absence of major natural catastrophes during the quarter, rates rose for catastrophe-exposed and noncatastrophe-exposed property risks, according to the report, “Global Insurance Market Quarterly Briefing: Q1 2012.”

For example, in the U.S., rates for catastrophe-exposed risks generally increased between 10% and 20%, while noncatastrophe-exposed property risks typically rose by up to 10%. Countries struck by natural disaster in 2011 saw the biggest jump in pricing for catastrophe-exposed risks, with rates in Japan and New Zealand rising more than 30%.

“The global commercial property insurance market is continuing to show signs of upwards rate trends, especially for catastrophe-exposed risks,” said Dean Klisura, U.S. risk practices leader for Marsh, in a statement.

“In the U.S., the property market continues to be in a state of transition with insureds more likely to experience rate increases than those renewing with flat or modest rate decreases,” he said. “We believe that this trend will continue in the short term, with the average rate of increase continuing to rise month over month.”

Workers compensation rates are also expected to rise as the frequency and severity of claims continues to grow. “The U.S. workers compensation insurance market experienced another difficult year in 2011, with insurers' combined ratios at their highest levels in more than a decade,” according to the report. “Guaranteed cost and monoline programs will likely be more difficult to place as some carriers are unwilling to compete on a monoline basis, or are requiring supporting business.”