Insurance News

Flat renewals expected for most insurance lines

Posted on: September 25, 2009

NEW YORK?Barring a major catastrophe or unforeseen event, risk managers should see stable property/casualty rates at least through the beginning of 2010, executives from Marsh & McLennan Cos. Inc. said Wednesday.

The economic turmoil that has characterized the past 12 months has not, as many had expected, ended the prolonged soft insurance and reinsurance markets, the executives said on a webcast sponsored by MMC?s brokerage unit, Marsh Inc. in New York. Instead, property/casualty rates have remained generally flat to slightly up or down in the first three quarters of 2009?a trend that is expected to continue through the Jan. 1, 2010, renewal period, they said.

?It?s a classic dull market,? Sean Mooney, chief economist of MMC?s reinsurance brokerage unit Guy Carpenter & Co. L.L.C., said in describing the property reinsurance market. ?Supply and demand are in balance so pricing is stable.?

Likewise, the casualty reinsurance market also is flat, he said. Absent a ?mega shock,? reinsurance markets should continue with flat Jan. 1, 2010, renewals, he said.

The primary market for property insurance also is stable, said Duncan Ellis, managing director and leader of Marsh?s global property practice in New York.In sampling about 1,000 U.S. clients that renewed their property policies in the first nine months of 2009, about half experienced rate changes of plus or minus 5%, Mr. Duncan said. The median rate change was flat, while the average change was a 2% decline.

Accounts with significant catastrophe exposures saw the largest rate increases?8% on average?according to Mr. Ellis. Some accounts saw rate increases of close to 15%, while clients with little to no cat exposures saw average rate decreases of 3% at renewal, he said.

Absent a large catastrophe, accounts should continue to renew with moderate increases or decreases, Mr. Ellis said.

In the primary casualty market, competition and abundant capacity are keeping rates flat to slightly down, and that is likely to continue for the coming months, said Tony Tam, a managing director in Marsh?s casualty practice.

Collateral for loss-sensitive programs, however, remains a key issue and one that insurers are addressing. Mr. Tam noted that in some cases insurers are willing to offer policies with shorter terms to reduce the initial collateral needs of customers, and some are willing to consider surety bonds as a form of collateral, although only for a fraction of the overall outstanding liability.

Marsh?s webcast, ?Budgeting for 2010: A Strategic Overview of the Insurance Marketplace,? also touched on directors and officers liability, fiduciary liability, employment practices liability, and trade credit insurance, as well as Medicare reporting regulations and pandemic preparedness.

A replay of the webcast is free of charge and is available on Marsh?s Web site at http://www.marsh.com.

Copyright © 2009 Crain Communications, Inc.

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