Insurance and reinsurance broker Lockton has released a report suggesting the property sector is casting a major shadow over the market, despite conditions in other lines remaining largely predictable.
In its report, Lockton explains that the P&C insurance market was previously on a path toward stabilisation before the event of Hurricane Ian, which ravaged Florida and other parts of the Southeastern US.
Hurricane Ian will ultimately cost the insurance industry an estimated $50-$65 billion, making it one of the largest disasters in US history.
Moreover, the 2022 Atlantic hurricane season overall was the third-most expensive season on record, according to Munich Re, resulting in $110 billion in total losses.
This has created a potential imbalance between supply and demand, suggests Lockton’s report, as Cedents are seeking to lay off risk, while reinsurers are hyper-focused on returns, as these have suffered amid the increasing frequency and severity of catastrophic property losses over the last decade.
Ian also exacerbated some of the adverse existing market conditions, suggests Lockton, setting the stage for difficult January treaty renewals.
The report states that not only is capacity expected to decline from 2022, but it will also be deployed differently, with some carriers finding it difficult to secure capacity at an expiring structure, with prices expected to increase sharply.
The firm adds that even before Ian, there was widespread agreement that reinsurance pricing had not kept pace with rising loss trends. Now, pricing is expected to rise steeply, and will ultimately be passed along to retail clients.
Though despite uncertainty about the reinsurance market, core P&C insurers continue to report both profitability and growth, says Lockton.
According to the firm, insurers generally reported healthy combined ratios as well as increases in net written premiums over 2021.
However, still accumulating property catastrophe and auto losses are worrying the industry, contributing to a $24.3 billion underwriting loss for the P&C industry for the first nine months of 2022, according to AM Best.
Lockton suggests that insurers with the greatest exposure to personal lines and property saw the most significant impacts. Meanwhile, the industry surplus also fell 11% from the end of 2021 to $919.6 billion.
The report states that although the industry remains well-capitalised, unrealised losses among some insurers are adversely affecting net income and contributed capital. Rising interest rates, however, are lifting carrier yields tied to new money and rollover investments.
Lockton writes, “At the end of 2022, property remains the major story in a market that is otherwise predictable for buyers.
“Conditions across many major lines, including directors and officers liability, cyber and umbrella/excess liability are better and more competitive than they have been in recent years. Workers’ compensation also remains favourable to buyers and countercyclical to the broader market.”