P/C industry slated to hold steady for 2014

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  • While many companies participating in the property and casualty insurance industry have enjoyed increased business in the past few years, it seems that the improvements seen during that time might tail off somewhat for 2014, and instead be a lot more stable going forward. This is certainly something insurance agents will need to keep in mind as they go about their business in the coming year.

    The reason that the steps forward might not be quite so significant in the coming year for the P/C industry is that there’s likely to be increased competition among insurers overall, according to a report from the Insurance Journal, based on data from the Wells Fargo 2014 Insurance Market Outlook. However, that doesn’t mean that there won’t be a number of issues with which companies and agents alike will have to contend over the course of the year.

    “We expect 2014 to be a good year for the majority of our commercial property and casualty insurance customers,” said Simon Hodge, head of the professional risk group at San Francisco-based Wells Fargo. “We anticipate significant marketplace capacity, excellent coverage quality in many areas, and do not expect a lot of pricing volatility.”

    What concerns might exist?
    Perhaps chief among these issues that many insurers could face is simply that it is now a “buyer’s market” when it comes to this kind of coverage, the report said. The combined rate and pricing ratio slipped significantly in the first nine months of the year, and that’s expected to continue for much of this year as well, as market capacity surges above the current levels, which are already at all-time highs. 

    Further, there are a number of risk management concerns many market participants may have, especially in the changing regulatory environment, the report said. Other risks linger as well, including those for information security and privacy, and general instability in global financial markets, and many insurers may need to do more to prepare for these issues.

    However, the fact that it’s now a buyer’s market may actually behoove insurance agents in particular, as it may allow them to take advantage of the fact that more consumers may be shopping for new coverage over the next several months or more. Connecting with these active searchers could go a long way to helping agents reach their goals for 2014, even in the more competitive environment.