Most Commercial Insurance Buyers Expect Flat Rates: Barclays

June 29, 2011

Commercial property/casualty insurance prices are stabilizing, with 70 percent of buyers expecting at least flat rates after years of declines, Barclays Capital said Tuesday.

The firm’s survey of 50 large buyers showed insurers are more disciplined, with multiyear deals absent from the market. Just six months ago, 15 percent of buyers were signing such deals, which insurers offer when conditions are weaker.

Barclays said 30 percent of survey respondents expect their insurance rates to rise and another 40 percent expect flat rates.

After years of declining prices, industry experts have said prices are likely to start turning due to a spate of serious natural disasters this year. Barclays noted, however, that it was not clear whether those price rises would be sustainable.

Reinsurers have said they would expect a broader and more sustained turn in the market toward higher pricing if a major hurricane made a U.S. landfall this summer.

Such a landfall, which could conceivably generate $20 billion in insured losses, would be on top of worldwide industry losses so far this year of $50 billion or more.

(Reporting by Ben Berkowitz, editing by Gerald E. McCormick)

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