Loretta Worters for I.I.I.
JERSEY CITY, N.J. — Private U.S. property/casualty insurers’ surplus reached a new record of $802.2 billion in the first half of 2019, pushed up by insurers’ income and unrealized capital gains, according to Verisk (Nasdaq:VRSK), a leading data analytics provider, and the American Property Casualty Insurance Association (APCIA).
The surplus grew $60.1 billion in 2019 as the stock market recovered from a significant downturn at the end of 2018. The prior record, set on September 30, 2018, was $781.6 billion.
The industry’s net income after taxes and underwriting gains remained strong despite small declines compared with the prior year. Net income after taxes declined to $32.8 billion for the first half of 2019 from $34.0 billion a year earlier, and net underwriting gains declined to $5.4 billion from $6.0 billion in first-half 2018.
Net written premium growth slowed to 1.0% in first-half 2019, after jumping 13.2% a year earlier; both were mostly the result of one-time increases in net written premiums caused by the changes multiple insurers made to their reinsurance arrangements in 2018. Net earned premiums grew 3.8%.
Insurers’ combined ratio deteriorated to 97.3% in first-half 2019 from 96.2% a year earlier. Net losses and loss adjustment expenses (LLAE) from catastrophes declined to $13.7 billion for first-half 2019 from $14.7 billion a year earlier.
“The property/casualty industry posted stable but unremarkable financial results for the first half of 2019,” said Robert Gordon, senior vice president for policy, research and international, at APCIA. “Incurred losses and loss adjustment expenses increased 5.7%, while net written premium growth settled back down from a 13.2% increase in the first half of 2018 to only 1% growth in the first half of 2019. The combined ratio increased to 97.3%, and net income after taxes actually declined by 3.5%. The decline in net income was offset by a swing in unrealized capital gains, from an $8.0 billion loss to a $41.6 billion gain, as the equity markets recovered from year-end 2018 losses. Insurers headed into the third quarter watchful of the hurricane and wildfire seasons but well positioned to provide the necessary financial security for their policyholders.”
“In today’s world, insurers have to improve their operations continually to remain successful,” said Neil Spector, president of ISO. “We’re still early in the 2019 catastrophe season, and it’s impossible to tell when and where the next catastrophe will hit. Right now, the industry surplus provides a reliable cushion against catastrophes—both natural and man-made. The strategic challenge for insurers is to account for all insurable risks explicitly and underwrite, price, and manage those risks correctly.”
Insurers’ net income after taxes fell to $14.9 billion in second-quarter 2019 from $16.9 billion in second-quarter 2018, and their combined ratio deteriorated to 98.9% in second-quarter 2019 from 97.7% a year earlier.
Net written premiums rose $4.9 billion, or 3.1%, to $160.3 billion in second-quarter 2019 from $155.5 billion in second-quarter 2018.
Net underwriting gains deteriorated to just $0.1 billion for second-quarter 2019 from $1.9 billion for second-quarter 2018.
Verisk (Nasdaq:VRSK) is a leading data analytics provider serving customers in insurance, energy and specialized markets, and financial services. Using advanced technologies to collect and analyze billions of records, Verisk draws on unique data assets and deep domain expertise to provide first-to-market innovations that are integrated into customer workflows. Verisk offers predictive analytics and decision support solutions to customers in rating, underwriting, claims, catastrophe and weather risk, global risk analytics, natural resources intelligence, economic forecasting, and many other fields. Around the world, Verisk helps customers protect people, property, and financial assets.
Headquartered in Jersey City, N.J., Verisk operates in 30 countries and is a member of Standard & Poor’s S&P 500® Index. In 2018, Forbes magazine named Verisk to its World’s Best Employers list. For more information, please visit www.verisk.com.