You might not realize it, but times have been pretty good for insurance customers. Although there have been some exceptions, for the most part, premiums have been steady or even reducing for years now. This may be about to change.
Why are market conditions changing? Because insurers are experiencing higher than expected losses. According to the 2019 A.M. Best Market Segment Report, the reported combined ratio for the P&C insurance industry has been above 100 – indicating an underwriting loss – since 2016. In 2017, the combined ratio reached 104.
If these losses continue, rate increases will follow. Securing coverage may become more challenging. Essentially, we may be looking at a hard market.
What’s driving higher-than-expected losses?
With property insurance, natural disasters are mostly to blame. The A.M. Best report says that Hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria contributed to near-record high U.S. catastrophe losses in 2017, with net catastrophe losses of $53 billion. Then in late 2018, the U.S. was hit with Hurricane Michael as well as the California wildfires, resulting in net catastrophe losses of more than $37 billion.
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