P&C Insurers See $1.5 Billion Net Underwriting Loss in 1H

A deteriorated combined ratio seen by insurers along with slow net written premium growth contributed to net underwriting losses of $1.5 billion in the first half of 2016. Insurers’ combined ratio deteriorated to 99.8% from 97.6% in the first-half of 2015, and net written premium growth slowed to 3.0% from 4.1% a year earlier, according to a report from ISO and the Property Casualty Insurers Association of America (PCI).

The Insurance Information Institute’s Steven N. Weisbart explained:

In general, premiums may grow for any or all of several reasons. First, there is growth in the number and/or value of insurable interests (such as property and liability risks). Second, there is an increase in the willingness of buyers who had some or no insurance to purchase or add to their insurance protection, net of those who reduce or drop it. And third, there is an increase in rates (that is, the price per unit of coverage).

Net investment income dropped to $22.1 billion in the first-half from $23.4 billion a year earlier, and realized capital gains decreased to $4.4 billion from $8.2 billion, resulting in $26.5 billion in net investment gains for the first-half, down $5.1 billion from a year earlier.
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Direct insured property losses from catastrophes in the United States totaled $13.5 billion in the first-half, up from $10.7 billion a year earlier—above the $11.6 billion average for first-half direct catastrophe losses for the past 10 years, according to the report.

“The industry’s results continued to worsen in the first half of the year, as insurers reported a first-half net underwriting loss for the first time since 2012 and saw their combined ratio exceed 99%,” Beth Fitzgerald, president of ISO Solutions, said in a statement. “Catastrophe losses remained higher than in previous years. Texas was hit by a hailstorm that has been described as the costliest in the state’s history, and several states in the central United States experienced severe thunderstorms. With interest rates and investment yields remaining low, insurers must find ways to improve operational efficiency while still providing valuable coverage for their policyholders.”

In the second quarter of this year, insurers’ net income after taxes fell to $8.3 billion from $12.9 billion in the second-quarter of 2015, and their combined ratio worsened to 102.1% in second-quarter 2016 from 99.4% a year earlier.

Their annualized rate of return on average surplus dropped to 4.9% in second-quarter 2016 from 7.7% a year earlier. Net written premiums rose 2.9% in second-quarter 2016 compared with 4.5% in second-quarter 2015.

Time for Post-Storm Claims Filing

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Record-breaking Storm Jonas, which struck a large portion of the East Coast last weekend, was yet another reminder to have property insurance policies up to date and be familiar with claims procedures. To get the claims process moving, risk professionals whose business suffered damage should contact their insurer and broker as soon as possible.

According to the Insurance Information Institute, business owners need to:

▪ Fill out claims forms as soon as possible—including a “proof of loss” form, which must be completed within 60 days.

▪ Make a list of damaged property; the more detailed the better. Take photos or video to back up the claim.

▪ Be prepared to show the adjuster the damaged property as well as financial records or other documents.

▪ Get at least two bids for repairs or replacements.

▪ Keep copies of all correspondence regarding the claim and note the name, title and phone number of everyone you speak with. For more details, see Filing a Business Insurance Claim.

 What Is, and Is Not, Covered 

Business property owners also need to understand what is and is not covered by insurance, and the various coverage options available to protect their business. Property damage is typically covered under a business owners policy (BOP) or through a commercial multi-peril (CMP) policy.

Most commercial property policies provide either:

Replacement cost coverage – pays to rebuild or repair the property, based on current construction costs.

Actual cash value coverage – pays to rebuild or replace the property minus depreciation

Depreciation is a decrease in value due to wear and tear or age so with actual cash value coverage a business that is destroyed may not be in a position to completely rebuild. Business owners can also opt for a combination of both types of coverage.

Business income insurance, also known as business interruption, is typically included in a BOP or CMP and provides coverage for:

▪ Revenue lost due to the closure.

▪ Fixed expenses, such as rent and utility costs.

▪ Expenses of operating from a temporary location.

To receive appropriate reimbursement from business interruption coverage, there must be direct physical damage to the property resulting from an insured event. Also, there is generally a 24- to 48-hour waiting period before business income coverage kicks in.

Determining a business interruption loss involves establishing what the business would have earned had there been no loss. Insurers will consider past tax returns, profit and loss statements, projected sales and non-continuing expenses.

If basic business interruption insurance and property insurance coverage was expanded to include utility interruption, you may be covered if either electrical or water service was discontinued as a result of the storm.

Businesses that rent or lease a building can purchase tenant coverage, which insures your on-premises property, including machinery, furniture and merchandise. The building owner’s policy will not cover contents, however.

At Risk for Flood Damage?

Location is the most important factor for weighing your risk for flood damage. Is your business located in or near a flood zone? (Flood map search tools can be found online.) In what part of the building is your businesses equipment and inventory located? Anything housed on a lower floor, for instance, will be at greater risk.

Standard commercial insurance policies exclude flooding from melting snow or tidal surge. Commercial flood coverage is available from the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) and from a few private insurers. The NFIP provides up to $500,000 in building coverage and $500,000 for contents. Excess flood insurance is also available for businesses.

For more information on coverage options and disaster preparedness, see the Business Insurance section of the III website.

Related Links

▪ Facts and Statistics: Catastrophes

▪ Articles: When Disaster Strikes: Preparation, Response and RecoveryDoes My Business Need Flood Insurance?Does My Business Need Earthquake Insurance?Does My Business Need Terrorism Insurance?;

 

2015 Extreme Weather Events in Review

From hurricanes to hail to droughts to tornadoes, 2015 was a busy year for extreme weather events. Drought in California continued to worsen, increasing the risk of wildfires. While record rainfall in Texas and Oklahoma alleviated drought, it caused severe flash flooding in Texas. There have been 25 Category 4-5 northern hemisphere tropical cyclones—the most on record to date, breaking the old record of 18 set in 1997 and 2004.

The Insurance Information Institute reported that insured losses from natural disasters in the United States in just the first half of 2015 totaled $12.6 billion—well above the $11.2 billion average in the first halves of 2000 to 2014.

Interstate Restoration provides a look at 2015 weather events:

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July 1 Renewals See Double-Digit Declines

Insurance buyers should expect improved rates and extended terms and conditions, as July 1 renewals saw price decreases across most geographies and lines of business, “many in the double-digit range,” according to Guy Carpenter.

“While the impact on property renewals, especially in the U.S., has been well documented, a wide variety of lines including marine, aviation, casualty, workers compensation and healthcare experienced improved terms and abundant capacity,” said Lara Mowery, managing director and head of Global Property Specialty for Guy Carpenter. “As a result, we have seen continued discussions around the expansion of terms and flexibility in adapting solutions to provide more client-specific tailored coverage that extend well beyond property.”

U.S. property renewal price decreases averaged in the mid-to-high teens. Changes in coverage, more diverse product offerings and an increase in multi-year options “enabled companies to better tailor their coverage to meet their risk management needs,” Guy Carpenter said.

In the U.S. casualty market, rates and terms continued to soften significantly on post-Jan. 1, 2014 quota share reinsurance program renewals. This trend was driven by reinsurers’ desire to diversify their writings as a result of an ongoing reduction in property catastrophe premiums.  In addition, loss ratios improved on the underlying business as a consequence of rate increases and reserve releases.

Guy Carpenter noted that growth in catastrophe bond issuance was strong through the first half of 2014, with a record-setting half-year issuance of $5.7 billion of 144A property catastrophe bonds. Outstanding total risk capital is now at an all-time high of $20.8 billion (excluding private placements). “In fact, even with no further activity for the remainder of the year, 2014 would still register as the fourth largest year in terms of new issuance,” the company said.

The Insurance Information Institute reported that profitability in the property/casualty insurance industry “retreated modestly” in the first quarter of 2014, as a result of higher underwriting losses. These were in part due to elevated catastrophe claims resulting from the polar vortex last year, and an abrupt drop in U.S. economic activity that caused lower premium growth and investment income. “Despite these headwinds, the industry registered a respectable return on average surplus of 8.4% in the quarter, compared to 9.6% in the first quarter of 2013 and 10.3% for all of 2013,” the III said.