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.

How to Influence Risk Management Standards, Frameworks and Guidelines

What do you want risk management standards, frameworks and guidelines to do for your success? Many people depend on these documents to provide needed guidance. Yet, you have heard the reasons people give for not wanting to deal with risk management standards and frameworks. Perhaps you have even voiced these yourself, at one time or another:

  • Our organization is so unique, no one standard or framework could possibly apply.
  • Standards are the same as regulations—we don’t need more regulations.
  • We know what we are doing—we don’t need any guidance. Those things don’t apply to us anyway.

Whether we like it or not, standards are a part of life and our daily language. We refer to a gold standard as a measure of excellence. There are standard breeds of dogs, horses and even chickens. We have internet standards. And what would we do without standards of care, and food safety standards?

Standards have been around a long time, and actually have benefited society. When time was standardized along the prime meridian, commerce flourished. When the United States decided to build the transcontinental railroad using a standard gauge, deliveries of passengers and goods were made more efficiently. Anyone who has traveled internationally can attest to at least one outcome when there is a lack of standards: the proliferation of power adapters that are needed when representatives from different nations gather.

Standards and guidelines—which typically are voluntary—are not regulations. Standards are created through consensus, public comment and acceptance. Regulations, on the other hand, are mandated through legislation. A primary standard (or “recognized” standard) is an established norm or collection of “best practices” that evolve over time under the jurisdiction of an international, regional or national standards development body. Standards are published as a formal document that can establish criteria, methods, processes and practices. In contrast, a guidance document, company product, corporate standard, etc., that may be developed outside of a recognized standards setting body—but which becomes generally accepted—is often called a de facto standard.

Ultimately, standards provide value when they foster common understanding reflecting collective wisdom, while creating efficiencies and better results for the organizations using them. In benefiting organizations, risk management standards generally recommend, but do not require, risk management criteria, methods, processes and practices. Therefore, they boost risk management’s value—one of the reasons you should care about risk management standards, frameworks and guidelines. And shouldn’t you be involved in developing guidance about your daily work? Another reason to care.

The problem is not a shortage of risk management standards and frameworks, but the proliferation of standards and frameworks that, at times, seem to contradict each other. The result is confusion, even about how terms and concepts are used. Sorting through these contradictions is challenging, particularly when others in the organization may be advocating a different risk management approach. These differences lead respective proponents to argue about which one is “right” or “better,” rather than focusing on the value that risk management can deliver. Creating a new risk management standard does not necessarily help the situation, as it usually just becomes one more competing standard.

There is an unmistakable need for understanding how to apply various risk management standards. Another reason for you to care: how complementary—or contradictory—risk management standards and frameworks may be can either help or hurt your efforts.

ACT NOW

We all have a unique opportunity right now to influence two of the major risk management guidance documents: ISO 31000:2009 developed by the International Organization for Standardization and the COSO ERM Framework 2004 under the auspices of the Committee of Sponsoring Organizations. Both are undergoing revision reviews at this time.

To influence the ISO 31000 revision: Seek to join the national mirror committee of your country. In the United States, the Technical Advisory Group for the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) is administered by the Association of Safety Engineers (ASSE) and chaired by Carol Fox, RIMS vice president of strategic initiatives. If you are interested in joining the US TAG, contact Ovidiu Munteanu for information and an application (omunteanu@asse.org).

To influence the COSO revision: The revision is open for public comment June 15 through September 30, 2016. COSO has expanded its website, www.COSO.org, with a section on the Framework update that includes the proposed Framework, survey and comment tools, and FAQs about the project, details of the most significant updates and how to respond to the survey. Written comments on the exposure draft will become part of the public record and will be available on the COSO website through Dec. 31, 2016.

P&C Insurers’ Profitability Up in First Half of 2015

Low catastrophe losses contributed to a rise in net income for property/casualty insurers in the first half of this year, to $31 billion from $26 billion in the first half of 2014, according to ISO, a Verisk Analytics business, and the Property Casualty Insurers Association of America (PCI). Insurers’ overall profitability, measured by their rate of return on average policyholders’ surplus, grew to 9.2% from 7.8%.

“While Old Man Winter did his best to disrupt things in the Northeast during the first half of 2015, insurers overall incurred lower domestic catastrophe losses than they did during the first half of last year due to a relatively quiet tornado season and the slow start to hurricane season,” Robert Gordon, PCI’s senior vice president for policy development and research, said in a statement. “Insurers’ combined ratio and rate of return all improved in the first half of 2015, while premium growth and investment income remained relatively stable.”

Beth Fitzgerald, president of ISO Solutions noted, “Still, it’s important to note than U.S. catastrophe losses during the first half of 2015 were only slightly lower than the 10-year average. As the devastation caused by meteorological conditions associated with Hurricane Joaquin highlights, it’s crucial for insurers to remain disciplined in their underwriting and look at analytics to be ready not only for weather disasters but also for other major challenges the future may hold.”

According to the report, insurers’ combined ratio improved to 97.6% for first-half 2015 from 98.9% for first-half 2014, and net underwriting gains went to $3.39 billion from $237 million. Net written premium growth remained unchanged at 4.1 percent for the first half of 2014 and 2015.

Also in first-half 2015, earned premiums grew 4.0% to $247.5 billion, while losses and loss adjustment expenses (LLAE) rose just 1.8% to $171.3 billion. Other underwriting expenses rose 4.7% to $71.8 billion, and policyholders’ dividends were mostly unchanged at $1.0 billion. Net underwriting gains increased to $3.4 billion from $0.2 billion.

In second quarter, consolidated net income after taxes for the P&C industry rose to $12.8 billion from $12.1 billion in second-quarter 2014.

P-C_1Q results

P&C insurers’ annualized rate of return on average surplus increased to 7.6% in second-quarter 2015 from 7.3% a year earlier.

Net written premiums rose $5.5 billion, or 4.4%, to $130.6 billion in second-quarter 2015 from $125.1 billion in second-quarter 2014.

Malware Threats from Unlicensed Software: The Critical First Step for Cyberrisk Management

Waking up to find your company on the front page news and at the center of a data breach is every CEO’s worst nightmare—and for a number of businesses, it has become reality. Today, the threats from cybercrime are real and frightening, and the risks are extraordinary. Cybersecurity is an incredibly complex issue and business leaders are grappling with how to best protect their businesses, understand the new business vulnerabilities, and identify what steps they can take to protect themselves and their customers from becoming a victim of cybercrime.

There is a strong case for organizations to put protection from malware at the top of their risk agenda. In the past year, 43% of companies experienced a data breach. The average organization experiences a malware event every three minutes, and the costs of dealing with that malware can be astronomical. The International Data Corporation (IDC) estimates that enterprises spent $491 billion in 2014 as a result of malware associated with counterfeit and unlicensed software.

A threshold step to mitigating risk is gaining an understanding of your own network and if the software you are using is genuine and fully licensed. Unfortunately, many businesses are failing to take this basic and critical first step to protect themselves.

It has long been suspected that there is a connection between unlicensed software and cybersecurity threats. A new study commissioned by BSA | The Software Alliance and conducted by IDC confirms this as fact.

The study compared rates of unlicensed software installed on PCs with a measure of malware incidents on PCs across 81 countries. Given that 43% of the software installed on PCs globally in 2014 was unlicensed, it’s clear that many businesses are at risk. The findings were sobering. The correlation between the use of unlicensed software and malware is even higher than the correlations between education and income, or that between smoking and lung cancer. The implication for governments, enterprises and consumers is clear: assessing what is in your network and eliminating unlicensed software could help reduce the risk of cybersecurity incidents.

Fortunately there are proven best practices available to tackle the challenges around software licensing.  The world class standard for Software Asset Management is ISO/IEC 19770-1:2012. The importance of implementing internal controls for legal use of technology, including software, has become so critical that COSO now recommends it in its revised Internal Control – Integrated Framework.

While putting controls in place may sound simple, many businesses are missing this first step. Only 35% of companies have written policies requiring the use of properly licensed software. For CEOs, now is the time to start implementing best practices that will help mitigate security risks and avoid your business becoming tomorrow’s news headline. For more information on additional steps you can take, visit BSA’s website.

BSA Global Software Survey