P/C Insurer Profitability Up, Combined Ratio Down in First Nine Months of 2015

February 4, 2016

Private U.S. property/casualty insurers’ net income after taxes grew to $44.0 billion in the first nine months of 2015 from $37.8 billion in nine-months 2014, with insurers’ overall profitability as measured by their rate of return on average policyholders’ surplus growing to 8.8 percent from 7.6 percent, according to ISO, a Verisk Analytics business, and the Property Casualty Insurers Association of America (PCI).

Insurers’ combined ratio improved to 96.9 percent for nine-months 2015 from 97.7 percent in nine-months 2014. Net written premium growth increased to 4.1 percent for nine-months 2015 from 4.0 percent for nine-months 2014. Net investment income increased to $34.8 billion for the first nine months of 2015 from $34.5 billion a year earlier, and realized capital gains increased slightly to $8.9 billion from $8.8 billion, resulting in $43.7 billion in net investment gains for nine-months 2015.

“Insurers overall had another strong quarter. Surplus and premium to surplus continue to hover near historic levels, underscoring insurers’ rock-solid financial foundation and ability to serve consumers,” said Robert Gordon, PCI’s senior vice president for policy development and research. “However, premium growth continues to be sluggish for commercial lines. Additionally, some industry statistics we’re monitoring indicate that the combined ratio for personal auto insurance has worsened, driven by increases in both accident severity and frequency.”

“In the first three quarters of 2015, insurers continued to face a difficult investment environment. Their annualized investment yield was just 3.1 percent, significantly below long-term averages, and that is unlikely to improve in the immediate future,” said Beth Fitzgerald, president of ISO Solutions. “To succeed today, it’s critical that insurers have the analytics and information they need to make the best possible underwriting decisions.”

Third-Quarter Results

The property/casualty insurance industry’s consolidated net income after taxes rose to $13.1 billion in third-quarter 2015, up from $11.8 billion in third-quarter 2014.

Property/casualty insurers’ annualized rate of return on average surplus increased to 7.8 percent in third-quarter 2015 from 7.0 percent a year earlier.

Net written premiums rose $5.3 billion, or 4.1 percent, to $136 billion in third-quarter 2015 from $130.7 billion in third-quarter 2014. The industry’s combined ratio worsened to 95.7 percent in third-quarter 2015 from 95.5 percent in third-quarter 2014.

Source: Verisk Analytics

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