U.S. Commercial-Insurance Prices Rise 1.5% in Second Quarter

By Noah Buhayar

Sept. 13 (Bloomberg) — U.S. commercial-insurance prices rose 1.5 percent in the second quarter from a year earlier and may keep climbing, according to a survey by consulting firm Towers Watson & Co.

Rates increased for all standard lines of coverage, including workers’ compensation and property, for the first time since the fourth quarter of 2003, New York-based Towers Watson said today in a statement. Gains were biggest on policies for midsized and large companies, the firm said.

Commercial insurers such as Travelers Cos., Chubb Corp. and American International Group Inc. faced claims this year from catastrophes. The March earthquake in Japan and second-quarter tornadoes in the U.S. contributed to more than $70 billion in losses during the first half. Carriers may benefit if rates continue to rise, eclipsing claims costs, said Bruce Fell, managing director of Towers Watson’s property and casualty practice in the Americas.

“What’s really a good sign is that we saw consistency across almost every line,” Fell said in a phone interview. “If this holds for the next few quarters, then I think it’s a really good, strong sign that discipline” has returned, he said.

The Towers Watson data is based on a survey of prices for new and renewal coverage reported by 38 insurance companies, representing about 20 percent of the commercial insurance market, the company said in the statement.

–Editors: Dan Reichl, Russell Ward

To contact the reporter on this story: Noah Buhayar in New York at nbuhayar@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Dan Kraut at dkraut2@bloomberg.net

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