P/C Insurers’ Reserves Redundancy to Continue: Moody’s

October 20, 2014

U.S. property/casualty insurers’ reserves will remain moderately redundant through the end of the year, Moody’s Investors Service has reported.

“We expect moderately redundant reserves based on ongoing rate-firming, benign loss costs and enhanced underwriting standards,” said Moody’s Jasper Cooper, an assistant vice president, analyst and author of the report, “U.S. P&C Reserves — Personal Lines Strong, Commercial Slowly Improving.”

U.S. P/C insurers released $8 billion of reserves during the first six months of the year, a significant portion of which came from the short-tail lines of several large personal lines carriers, according to Moody’s.

Moody’s estimates that the U.S. P/C industry had excess core reserves of about $7-$9 billion at year-end 2013, excluding two-year lines such as auto physical damage. However, significant differences exist in reserve levels between lines of business.

There are redundancies for personal lines and medical professional liability, but a slight deficiency for the standard commercial liability lines. The reserve margin will likely remain for personal lines, although Moody’s expects more moderate redundancies for medical professional
liability at the end of the year.

For commercial liability lines, reserves are likely to be breakeven as of year-end 2014, including a modest redundancy for the 2014 accident year.

“As we expected, personal lines insurers and higher-rated insurers, those with Aaa or Aa insurance financial strength ratings, had larger reserve redundancies than commercial lines carriers and lower-rated companies,” said Cooper.

For the 25 largest primary P/C insurers, Moody’s said it sees a wide range of reserve strength, with some companies having sizable redundancies and others, moderate deficiencies. The range suggests that the reserve releases of the last few years will decline much sooner for some
companies while others may report moderate adverse development, particularly in commercial auto and workers’ compensation.

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