In 2012, the U.S. Congress passed the Biggert-Watters reforms of the National Flood Insurance Program, which were designed to cut debt for the NFIP and alter insurance rates for consumers living in areas that are likely to flood. However, a recent survey suggests that many in the industry believes that these changes will not take place any time in the near future.
Though the NFIP’s debt has ballooned to more than $25 billion in the last several years, a full 75 percent of top members of the property and casualty insurance industry say that federal lawmakers will delay the implementation of Biggert-Watters, according to a recent poll from the Insurance Information Institute. Interestingly, though, those same executives also foresaw a number of other changes for the industry as well.
For instance, 93 percent believe that the Terrorism Risk Insurance Act will be reauthorized by Congress before it’s slated to expire on the final day of 2014, the report said. In addition, one in seven also said that they believe the insurance industry will face tougher regulation from the federal government specifically, in terms of their oversight of the entire industry.
Optimism remains mixed
Despite concerns over the way in which the federal government might exert greater control on the industry as a whole, many insurance executives also foresee at least some improvement for the sector, the report said. For instance, a combined 72 percent believe that premium growth will either increase or hold steady from last year’s numbers, and 73 percent believe that capacity will increase. However, 68 percent of respondents also said that they think combined ratio – the amount of every dollar spent on claims and expenses – will increase this year.
“Many economic forecasts say that the U.S. and most global economies will grow stronger in 2014, and this means a greater need to protect more assets and income, which leads to greater insurance premium volume,” said Steven Weisbart, senior vice president and chief economist with the III. “Both personal lines (auto and homeowners insurance) and commercial insurance will see increased exposures. 2013 was the industry’s most profitable year since the Great Recession, and 2014 could be even better, barring major catastrophe losses.”
Insurance agents will certainly want to keep a close eye on the ways in which the industry is being regulated going forward, as this will likely have a significant impact on their business both in the short- and long-term.