Negativity in property/casualty insurance underwriting keeps spreading like a contagion in 2014, with very few lines escaping pricing pressures and no sign of a letup anytime soon, Keefe, Bruyette & Woods concluded in a new report.
If sentiment was turning less positive last quarter, that progression has further developed into a “shift toward outright negativity,” KBW said in its report.
The analyst firm noted that “commercial and specialty insurers, along with reinsurers, underperformed the broader market through the 2Q14 earnings season, while personal lines insurers outperformed both other insurers and the market.”
Why did personal lines insurers do so well? That’s because of more favorable personal auto and homeowners rate trends “along with reinsurance arbitrage,” KBW said.
KBW noted in the report that commercial lines rate increases are decelerating by about 100 basis points, in line with the first quarter. Also, specialty rate increases outside of workers comp and specialty transportation have become “much more modest,” KBW said.
And while personal auto and homeowners rates have been “surprisingly resilient,” KBW said that the sluggishness will likely broaden and continue in the other areas. Property-CAT reinsurance pricing, for example, should continue its “precipitous deterioration,” KBW said.
The analyst firm said that commercial auto and workers’ comp will generate solid rate increases through the next few quarter, along with regions dealing with weather losses. But regions with low losses, plus casualty and specialty lines, will likely see deceleration continue and remain in place by the end of the year.