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Ratings outlook stable for commercial, personal lines: Fitch

Posted On: Mar. 26, 2019 11:54 AM CST

ratings outlook

The ratings outlook remains stable for the insurance industry's commercial and personal lines businesses, Fitch Ratings Inc. said in a statement Tuesday.

North American property/casualty insurers saw improved operating returns and underwriting profits in 2018 despite a second consecutive year of higher than average catastrophe losses, according to an analysis of 48 property/casualty insurers' 2018 results, Fitch said.

In December 2018, Fitch revised its U.S. property/casualty sector outlook to stable from negative, reflecting improved market fundamentals, the statement said.

Although insured catastrophe losses totaled 5.0% of aggregate net earned premiums in 2018, above historic norms, they had roughly half of the 9.3-point catastrophe loss impact in 2017, Fitch said.

Aggregate operating return on average equity of 6.9% in 2018 was up from 4.8% in 2017 largely on the improved underwriting results in the period, Fitch said.

In 2018, North American property/casualty insurers also faced flat investment yields, declining shareholder equity and modest capital returns, Fitch added.

"The P/C market experienced a series of multibillion-dollar catastrophe loss events in 2018, which led to sizable aggregation of losses, but no individual event was large enough to have a significant impact on capital in the market," Chris Grimes, Fitch Ratings director of insurance, said in the statement.