Commercial Lines Softening to Continue in U.S. in 2015: Marsh

February 9, 2015

Competition among property/casualty insurance carriers and the flow of capital into the industry are continuing to drive down rates in most U.S. commercial lines and conditions are particularly favorable for clients with attractive risks and good loss histories, says global insurance broker Marsh,

Cyber insurance is an area where demand is strong and rates are volatile, the broker notes.

In its annual U.S. Insurance Market Report 2015, Marsh says that the U.S. commercial property insurance market is expected to continue to soften into 2015.

Barring unforeseen events, clients with non-catastrophe exposed risks should expect competition for their property insurance programs in 2015 with favorable terms and conditions and price decreases typically averaging between 5 percent and 15 percent, depending on the insured’s specifics.

Catastrophe-exposed clients also can expect typical rate decreases in the 10 percent to 15 percent range, depending on their risk profile and concentration of catastrophe prone areas, Marsh predicts.

The U.S. casualty insurance market also appears poised to soften in 2015, following a stable 2014 in which rates generally edged upward, but the pace of increase slowed, according to the report. Of particular note, 2014 is projected to be the first profitable year for workers’ compensation since 2006, although insurers are still pressing for rate increases.

Cyber Market

Cyber remains one of the fastest growing sectors in the insurance market, as evidenced by continued growth in premium and policy count, as well as the steady influx of new capacity. Marsh reports that continued growth in supply and demand for cyber insurance, coupled with unexpected loss activity, led to significant volatility in pricing during 2014, which is likely to continue in 2015, Marsh notes.

Cyber insurance rates were up on average between 2 percent to 10 percent in the fourth quarter of 2014 for clients with average to good loss profiles.

“Strong capital positions, ample capacity and competition within the U.S. property/casualty market are leading to favorable conditions for insureds, especially those with well-managed risks,” said Robert Bentley, president, U.S. and Canada division. “While this is good news, organizations need to remain vigilant in their efforts to stay abreast of the changing marketplace, where new and emerging risks can quickly escalate if not properly managed.”

He said Marsh expect the use of analytics to continue to play a key role in organizations’ risk management and risk transfer strategies in 2015.

Other observations and predictions from Marsh’s outlook include:

  • The release of the revised Fair Labor Standards Act regulation is likely to increase wage and hour claim filings, a key issue to watch in employment practices liability in 2015. Employers should pay special attention to changing laws in this area.
  • The captive insurance market is expected to continue to grow this year; captive owners should be focused on evolving regulations in domiciles foreign and domestic.
  • If oil prices hold steady at $60 or less, many energy companies are expected to reduce capital expenditures for exploration and production, especially in high-cost project areas such as deepwater drilling and Arctic exploration.
  • With political risk insurance capacity at record levels, buyers in 2014 experienced generally favorable market conditions, which are expected to continue into 2015.
  • Bankruptcies in the U.S. retail sector caused some trade credit insurers to express concerns and take steps to reduce their exposure to that industry; however, there does not seem to be an effect on the overall market. In the fourth quarter of 2014, rates typically decreased 5 percent to 10 percent.

Source: Marsh

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