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Workers comp insurers boost results, but reserves lag: Best

Workers comp insurers boost results, but reserves lag: Best

Workers compensation insurers' financial results improved in 2012 as net written premiums increased and combined ratios decreased for the first time in six years, but comp reserves continued a yearslong decline, A.M. Best Co. Inc. said Monday in a report.

Net written workers comp premiums reached $41 billion in 2012, up 9.5% from $37.5 billion in 2011, the Oldwick, N.J.-based rating agency said in its workers comp “Segment Review” report.

Meanwhile, workers comp insurers' saw their combined ratio decline to 110.3% in 2012, down from 117.8% in 2011 and the first combined ratio decline for the U.S. comp industry since 2006.

“Sustained growth in 2012 premium reflects the increasing payroll base as economic conditions improve; ongoing rate increases in an improving pricing environment; and firming market conditions,” Best said in the analysis.

Despite improved results, Best estimated that comp industry reserves were underfunded by $27.8 billion in 2012, slightly worse than the $26.7 billion in underfunding in 2011.

“While the majority of the deficiency is due to statutory discounting, the ultimate adequacy of the industry's reserves remains uncertain for accident years when rates were at their low point,” Best said.