Eight new nominees join Ward Group’s 2014 roundup of the 50 top performing property/casualty insurers. The recently released analysis crowns the best performers out of more than 3,000 companies in the industry that are domiciled in the U.S.

Allstate Insurance Co., The Andover Cos., FM Global, MMG Insurance Co., SECURA Insurance Cos., West Bend Mutual, Westfield Insurance and Zurich American Insurance Co. all made the cut for the first time in the annual industry-watched compilation, according to a Carrier Management comparison.

Of course, that means eight companies that made the 2013 top 50 list are off this year’s iteration: Bear River Mutual Insurance Co., Century-National Insurance Co., Federated Mutual Group, GuideOne Insurance Co., Lancer Insurance Co., The Main Street America Group, Ohio Mutual Insurance Group and Safety Insurance Group.

Such are the highlights from the Ward Group’s 24th consecutive annual analysis of the top P/C industry players.

Ward Group, which could not be reached for comment, handles the list a bit differently than other listings of top players. The top 50 P/C companies are listed alphabetically, not by performance ranking. (You can contemplate their full list here). Ward’s list also emphasizes how the top players performed collectively from 2009 to 2013, on average, compared to the P/C industry overall.

According to Ward’s analysis, this year’s top 50:

  • Generated a 10.6 percent average statutory return on equity from 2009 to 2013, versus a 6.9 percent return for the overall P/C insurance industry.
  • Posted a combined ratio of 94.7 for 2009 through 2013, versus 102.3 for the overall sector.
  • Recorded higher growth in policyholders surplus—28 percent over the five-year period compared to 20 percent for all the P/C companies as a whole.
  • Produced a 14.4 percent growth in net premiums written from 2009-2013, while the industry’s overall growth in net premiums written during that period hit 10.8 percent.

Jeff Rieder, partner and head of Ward Group, said in a statement that the research reflects, in part, considerable industry investment in technology, plus product and customer service improvements.

Companies made the list after meeting minimum standards such as surplus and premiums of at least $50 million for each of the five years under consideration, and net income during at least four of the five years. Once they crossed that threshold, they were ranked based on their five-year average returns on equity, assets, total revenue and five-year growth in revenue. As well, Ward looked at the five-year average combined ratio and five-year improvement in surplus to written premium.

Ward also released a top 50 list for life/health insurers based on an evaluation of close to 800 companies in the sector, also domiciled in the United States.

Ward is part of Aon Hewitt (which is, in turn, a division of Aon plc) and offers operational and compensation benchmarking/best practices services for insurance companies.