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Property/casualty industry grew 1.9% in 2011: Swiss Re


ZURICH—Nonlife insurance premiums grew 1.9% to $1.970 trillion worldwide in 2011, according to a report released by Swiss Re Ltd. on Wednesday.

Solid economic expansion in emerging markets and selective rate increases in some advanced markets contributed to the premium growth, the Zurich-based reinsurer's latest sigma study said. Indeed, the divide between advanced and emerging market was pronounced, the study showed.

Premiums in advanced markets grew a mere 0.5%, with the unfolding recession in Europe and the weak economy in the United States dampening demand for coverage, according to the study.

U.S. nonlife premiums fell 1.3% compared with 2010. The contraction in the United States, the largest market by volume with $667 billion in nonlife premium, was partially offset by growth in other large markets such as Japan, which grew 2.8%, and Germany, which saw nonlife premiums grow 1.2%.

Growth in emerging markets was more robust in 2011, with nonlife premiums growing an average of 8.6% from the previous year.

Outliers included India, which grew 13.5%; Mexico, which grew 12.3%; and Russia, which grew 11.3%.

“Nonlife premium growth in the advanced markets has been supported by gradual rate increases in personal lines of business and in regions affected by large natural catastrophes,” Daniel Staib, Zurich-based senior economist at Swiss Re and one of the authors of the study, said in a statement. “Despite the adverse environment in 2011, nonlife insurers' capital position remained sound, putting the industry in a strong position to grow steadily in the future.”