Commercial insurance rates flat except workers comp: Towers Watson

Commercial insurance prices remained “relatively flat” overall during the first quarter of 2011, but workers compensation prices showed a modest increase, according to a survey Towers Watson & Co. released Monday.

The first-quarter rise of about 2% in workers comp pricing comes after two years of relatively flat conditions, Towers Watson said.

“The increases in workers compensation prices this quarter are larger than we’ve seen in quite some time, and package (commercial multiperil and business owner policies) and general liability are also showing upticks,” Bruce Fell, director of Towers Watson’s property/casualty practice in the Americas, said in a statement.

Second-quarter rises expected

“While the overall story is still one of flat prices, the observed movements, coupled with recent weather-related insurance losses that are expected to firm property prices, could mean more significant increases in the second quarter of 2011,” Mr. Fell said.

Workers comp prices already had been increasing in California, but were offset by decreases elsewhere during recent quarters, Towers Watson said. But prices outside of California showed an increase during the first quarter of 2011, the first time in nearly six years, the New York-based consultant said.

Towers Watson said its Commercial Lines Insurance Pricing Survey is based on information contributed by 39 insurance companies representing 20% of the U.S. commercial insurance market.

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