As Small Business Shrinks, Small P/C Insurers Lose

January 11, 2011

The property/casualty small business sector—those accounts with less than 50 employees—has shrunk substantially since 2007, and there has been a dramatic shift in market share among small, mid-sized and large insurers.

The insurance market is shifting from smaller insurers with less than $500 million in premium to midsized and larger insurers, according to a new study by Conning Research & Consulting.

“The small business sector for property casualty suffered disproportionately during and after the recession, partly due to lack of available capital and partly to its substantial exposure to the contracting industry. The delay in recovery has persisted through 2010,” said Clint Harris, analyst at Conning Research & Consulting.

Hartford-based Conning said it has identified two major shifts since 2007.

First, there has been a much deeper premium decrease for small business accounts. Conning estimates that these cuts have been about $71 billion, or a 17 percent decline from 2007 levels—versus an 8 percent decline for middle and large market.

Second, Conning sees “an important shift in market share” in this sector from smaller insurers with less than $500 million in premium to midsized and large insurers.

“Despite the shift of market share from small to larger insurers, not all small insurers are losing share, and not all larger insurers are gaining,” said Stephan Christiansen, director of research at Conning.

The insurers that have been increasing their market share, according to Christiansen, are those that have been active in the market, acquiring business, increasing products and services, and expanding their distribution footprints.

The trend is here to stay, according to Conning.

“Even if the small business sector experiences rapid growth for the next few years, we believe that the shift in market share will continue,” he said.

Christiansen said the market today favors “broad, technically supported and well managed distribution strategies, along with robust product development that addresses the evolving needs of small businesses.”

The Conning Research study, “The Property-Casualty Small Business Market: Larger Insurers Take Share in a Contracting Sector” analyzes the property/casualty small business sector—the conditions, market share shifts, success factors and strategies for the future.

Source: Conning Research & Consulting

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