Allstate’s Auto Claims Rise as Fourth Quarter Profit Drops 41%

February 3, 2016 by Sonali Basak

Allstate Corp., the largest publicly traded U.S. car and home insurer, said fourth-quarter profit fell on a surge in auto claims.

Net income declined 41 percent to $489 million, or $1.18 a share, from $824 million, or $1.86, a year earlier, Northbrook, Illinois-based Allstate said Wednesday in a statement. Operating profit, which excludes some investment results, was $1.60 a share, beating the $1.35 average estimate of 24 analysts surveyed by Bloomberg.

Lower fuel prices have put more people on the road, spurring more claims to Allstate and a deteriorating underlying combined ratio — a measure of the insurer’s profitability. Chief Executive Officer Tom Wilson’s company has been raising prices for auto coverage while expanding home policies and investing in technology platforms such as Esurance to boost the online business.

“I don’t think that the underlying combined ratio will improve, until really the end of 2016,” Paul Newsome, an analyst with Sandler O’Neill & Partners, said by phone before results were released. “It takes a while for the price increases to get implemented into the book of business. We still have lower gas prices which causes people to drive more, which means there will be more accidents.”

Allstate declined less than 1 percent to $59.64 as of 4 p.m. Wednesday in New York. It has slipped 4 percent this year, after falling about 12 percent in 2015.

The property/casualty insurance giant reported an underlying combined ratio of 88.7 for 2015, excluding factors such as catastrophes and prior year reserve re-estimates, versus 87.2 in 2014. Similarly, the full property/liability combined ratio for 2015 was 88.7, up slightly from 87.2 a year ago.

Here’s a rundown of Allstate’s full-year results:

For Q4, Allstate’s consolidated property liability combined ratio was 92, versus 90 in the 2014 fourth quarter. Catastrophe losses reached $358 million, up from $95 million in Q4 2014.

*Carrier Management added additional material to this story.