bigstock-Royal-flag-winner-4847931For more than two decades, the names GEICO, RLI Insurance Company and USAA Group have appeared on an annual list of 50 top property/casualty insurance performers, and four new names joined the ranks this year.

According to Ward Group, which yesterday published the 2013 Ward’s 50 lists for P/C insurance and for life/health, the first-time P/C honorees are Century-National Insurance Company, Texas Mutual Insurance Company, United Educators and Utica First Insurance Company.

Together the elite group of 50 companies had an average combined ratio that was almost 10 points better than the P/C industry over the last 10 years.

The three stalwarts have been on the list for 23 consecutive years, Ward reports.

The complete 50-member list, published alphabetically on Ward’s website, is derived by analyzing the financial results of more than 3,000 U.S.-domiciled P/C carriers using metrics such as:

  • Five-year average return on average equity.
  • Five-year average return on total revenue.
  • Five-year growth in revenue.
  • Five-year improvement in surplus to written premium.
  • Five-year average combined ratio.

Although Ward did not reveal the individual metrics for the top carriers, in aggregate, Ward reports that the top 50 P/C insurers produced an average combined ratio of 94.6 over the past five years, compared to 104.2 for the industry overall—a 9.6 point difference.

The Ward’s 50 P/C insurance carriers also had a 9.9 percent statutory return on average equity from 2008 to 2012 compared to 4.9 percent for the industry overall.

Net premiums written for the Ward’s 50 P/C group grew 16.9 percent over the five-year period compared to the industry’s 8.2 percent growth.

In addition to achieving higher financial returns, the Ward’s 50 benchmark has lower overall expense ratios, according to Jeff Rieder, partner and head of Ward Group. In 2012, expenses relative to revenue were 9.3 percent lower for the Ward’s 50 P/C group, he says.

In order to be eligible for the list, before companies are even evaluated on the various financial metrics as well as subjective quality measures, carriers must pass minimum safety and consistency thresholds:

  • Surplus and premiums of at least $50 million for each of the five years analyzed.
  • Net income in at least four of the last five years.
  • Compound annual growth in premiums between -10 percent and +40 percent.

Ward also compiled a list of top 50 life/health insurers from a similar analysis of nearly 800 L/H companies.

There are six organizations that have affiliated companies named to both the P/C and L/H Ward’s 50 lists in 2013:

  • ACE Group (ACE American Insurance Company and Combined Insurance Company of America)
  • Berkshire Hathaway (GEICO and General Re Life)
  • HCC (HCC Insurance Holdings and HCC Life)
  • Federated (Federated Mutual and Federated Life)
  • American Financial (American Financial Group and Great American Life Insurance Company)
  • USAA (USAA Group and USAA Life)