Property/Casualty Insurance Premiums Grew Modestly in Q3

November 18, 2010

The U.S. property and casualty industry continued to experience modest growth in premiums written while essentially breaking even on underwriting with a calendar year combined ratio of approximately 100 percent, according to an SNL Financial analysis of preliminary third-quarter statutory insurance data.

Based on data for more than 76 percent of the U.S. P/C industry, direct premiums written increased 1.3 percent to $101, billion and net premiums written were up 2.2 percent to $88.7 billion from the same period in 2009. According to SNL, this second consecutive quarter of premium growth is a positive indicator, given that direct premiums written had previously declined on a year-over-year basis for six consecutive quarters and net premiums written had declined for eight straight quarters.

“The personal lines market continues to strengthen,” said Jon Wright, director of Insurance at SNL. “Higher loss costs and accident year loss ratios resulted in negative returns for these lines in 2009. The commercial lines market remains very competitive with most lines of business reporting declining premiums. However, workers’ compensation is one exception, reporting modest gains.”

The pace of reserve releases slowed in the third quarter relative to prior periods, but favorable reserve development continued to subsidize the industry’s operating results. Favorable development totaled $10.1 billion year-to-date through September 30, up from $8.2 billion for the year-to-date as of June 30.

SNL’s statutory data includes detailed financial data on each filer, reinsurance, investment and loss reserve schedules, data by state and line of business and hundreds of ratios, snapshots and analytics, available exclusively as part of SNL Unlimited service for Financial Institutions.

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