There’s no doubt that the insurance industry has had something of a rocky time over the several years, but property and casualty insurers seem to have enjoyed a fairly successful 2013 despite it all. This may be good news for insurance agents in particular, as much of the reason for these improvements came as a result of better underwriting overall.
In all, private P/C insurers operating in the U.S. saw net income – after taxes – of $63.8 billion, a number that was increased by nearly double from the $35.1 billion profit observed over the course of 2012, according to the latest data from the Property Casualty Insurers Association of America. In addition, the overall rate of return for those companies was 10.3 percent, making it the largest such number seen by the industry since 2007, before the effects of the recession really began to take hold. At that time, seven years ago, the rate of return was 12.4 percent.
In particular, $15.5 billion of those net gains came as a consequence of improved underwriting results, the report said. Over the course of 2012, those same companies actually lost some $15.4 billion in this regard, meaning the difference is a massive $30.9 billion for these companies. Further, the combined ratio came to 96.1 percent, a stark change from 2012’s 102.9 percent.
Why the improvement?
In 2012, many insurers took a serious hit as a result of the devastation caused by Hurricane Sandy making landfall all along the East Coast, the report said. However, the 2013 hurricane season was, by comparison, extremely mild, and that meant significant improvement for many insurers’ bottom lines. However, there is still room for caution.
“The U.S. marketplace emerged relatively unscathed from the hurricane season last year,” said Robert Gordon, PCI’s senior vice president for policy development and research. “But advanced risk models show that losses from catastrophic events will continue to increase, and insurers will need to keep on building their financial resources to protect policyholders and bolster economic resiliency before the next major event like Hurricane Katrina or the Sept. 11 terrorist attack occurs. Insurers are taking the steps necessary to secure their financial commitments to consumers.”
Insurance agents could continue to see improved business over the course of the year as the economy puts many Americans in a better position to buy homes and take on insurance policies designed to protect them overall. Highlighting the benefits of these plans to prospective clients will therefore be very important this year.