Heavy competition, plus plenty of capacity and very few major events combined to drive global property insurance rates down lower in the 2014 first quarter, a new Marsh report concluded.

Marsh’s latest Global Insurance Market Quarterly Briefing tracked rate declines in all major regions. Latin America generated an average rate renewal reduction of 7.6 percent, but the U.S. saw average property rates dip 2.5 percent, the first time they fell slightly overall since the 2012 second quarter, according to Marsh’ assessment. In the U.K., the average property rate declined 5 percent and the Asia-Pacific region produced rate reductions of up to 20 percent or more, depending on the risk size, Marsh said.

Marsh’s Risk Management Global Insurance Index, which reflects property pricing generated in the overall insurance market, dropped for the fourth consecutive quarter. At 100.4, it is as low as it has been since the 2012 third quarter, Marsh said.

So what drove the downward price trending?

Competition helped, and it came from some of the major market players, Marsh said.

“The first quarter benefited from additional capacity surfacing across most of the global market, primarily from existing players looking to increase market share,” the Marsh report noted, adding two emerging markets in particular produced some robust activity in that regard.

“Countries that have been growing as insurance centers, such as Dubai and Singapore, continued to increase their presence with capacity gains during the first quarter,” the Marsh report explained. “In Singapore, new capacity came largely from international carriers continuing their growth agendas.”

Other highlights from the Marsh briefing:

  • Casualty rates softened in a more moderate fashion, lead by Latin America, Asia-Pacific and the U.K. The U.S. and Continental Europe, by contrast, experienced slight increases in casualty rates.
  • Continued competitiveness in the reinsurance market drove pricing reductions in the primary markets.
  • Professional liability stayed stable, generally speaking. Average rates remained flat, or declined by up to 10 percent in Australia, France, Germany, India and Korea.