Best’s: P&C Insurers Post Strong Gains in 2021 Despite Near-Record Cat Losses
Net income for publicly traded U.S. property/casualty (P/C) insurers more than doubled in 2021 to $133.9 billion despite numerous weather-related natural catastrophes, investment market volatility and the lingering economic effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, according to an AM Best report.
In its new Best’s Special Report, titled, “Despite Near-Record Catastrophe Losses, U.S. Property/Casualty Insurers Post Strong Gains,” AM Best notes that U.S. publicly traded P/C insurers posted gains in all key revenue and income measures. These gains more than offset the second-worst year ever in terms of billion-dollar weather and climate disasters.
The report states that a 4.0-percentage-point increase in the loss ratio is one area of concern, as traffic patterns returned to pre-pandemic levels, worsening loss severity on higher medical costs and expensive repairs. “The benefit of fewer drivers on U.S. roadways at the height of the pandemic was offset by reports of drivers traveling at higher average speeds—the reason for the rise in the fatality rate, which showed no signs of abating in 2021,” said Christopher Graham, senior industry analyst, industry research and analytics, AM Best.
Other report highlights include:
The cost of natural catastrophes for P/C insurers approached $100 billion in 2021, leading to a median combined ratio among the publicly traded P/C insurers of 97.4 on a GAAP basis;
Premium revenue rebounded, rising 10%, following an increase of 2.9% in 2020, the lowest increase in several years. The increase in premium in 2021 was attributable to insurers targeting coverage lines that have been generating unfavorable results, such as general liability, professional liability, commercial automobile and catastrophe-exposed property, through approved rate actions and the judicious use of pricing tools for better price adequacy;
Overall P/C revenue increased 19.7% in 2021 to $711.1 billion on the jump in premium revenue and a double-digit increase in net investment income, as well as a $6.7 billion net realized gain on investments—whichcompared with an almost $15 billion loss in 2020; and
Debt dropped 2.3% in 2021, while shareholders’ equity increased 8.1%. This led to a moderate decline in the debt-to-equity ratio, to 25.1 from 27.8.
AM Best is a global credit rating agency, news publisher and data analytics provider specializing in the insurance industry. Headquartered in the United States, the company does business in over 100 countries with regional offices in London, Amsterdam, Dubai, Hong Kong, Singapore and Mexico City. For more information, visit www.ambest.com.