Fitch: D&O Liability Insurance Rate Declines, Marks Soft U.S. P/C Market

The insurance market underwriting cycle is turning unfavorable in many U.S. commercial market segments, including directors and officers (D&O) liability insurance, Fitch Ratings says. Premium rates in property lines have been declining for some time in response to a lack of large loss events. Fitch expects that competitive forces will likely drive prices lower in more casualty and liability lines, in part due to past underwriting success.

The latest Quarterly D&O Pricing Index report compiled by Aon Risk Solutions indicates that pricing on D&O programs that renewed in the third quarters of both 2015 and 2014 is 10.1 percent lower than pricing on the comparable group a year ago.

Willis’s recent Marketplace Realities 2016 report indicates that public company and financial institution company D&O renewal rates are projected to be flat to slightly down in 2016. Excess rates are projected to fall by 5-15 percent next year. However, weaker performing privately held and non-profit business is still seeing rate increases.

D&O underwriters have benefited from relatively stable claims trends have in recent years, particularly regarding claims relating to securities class action filings. Underwriting performance slightly deteriorated in 2015 with a reported statutory direct loss ratio of 51 percent for the industry at Sept. 30, compared with 49 percent in full year 2014. Considerable further weakening in underwriting performance would need to be experienced to facilitate a shift towards positive D&O premium rate movement.

Recent merger activity in the property/casualty industry will have a meaningful effect on D&O market composition, but is unlikely to influence near-term pricing momentum. American International Group’s perennial market leader position will narrow as the pending merger between Ace and Chubb closes. The recently completed acquisition of HCC Holdings by Tokio Marine and the merger of XL Group and Catlin are also promoting a more concentrated, but still competitive D&O marketplace with ample underwriting capacity.

Based on nine months 2015 direct premiums, 50 percent of the market is written within four companies, with pro forma D&O market share split approximately: 17 percent – AIG, 14 percent – Ace/Chubb, 10 percent – XL Catlin, and 9 percent – Tokio Marine U.S. Newly merged entities’ success in integrating and retaining business within a larger portfolio will influence market competition going forward. Smaller underwriters may become more active in seeking growth by attracting displaced accounts or underwriters from recent transactions.

Source: Fitch Wire