Progressive March, Q1 Income Down on Prior-Year, Catastrophe Losses

NU Online News Service, April 11, 10:20 a.m. EDT

Unfavorable prior accident-year reserve development and $10 million in catastrophe losses forced Progressive Corp. income down 44 percent for the month of March.

Net income for the third month of the year was $76.3 million, compared to $136.2 million during the same month a year ago.

First-quarter net income for the Mayfield Village, Ohio-based personal and commercial auto insurance provider was down 29 percent to $257.6 million from $362.9 million a year ago.

Progressive says catastrophe losses for the quarter were $16 million, compared to about $10 million during the first three months of 2011. Texas accounted for about 40 percent of the catastrophe losses. Claims payments from Tennessee made up 20 percent of the losses.

Additionally, unfavorable prior accident year reserve development of $32.5 million for the month of March was felt primarily in bodily injury and property damage as well as personal injury protection (PIP) in Florida.

A majority, about $23 million, of the unfavorable development, came from personal lines. Higher-than-expected large losses in commercial auto added $9 million in unfavorable development, Progressive says. The combined ratio for March in commercial auto was 103.3.  

Prior-year losses contributed 2.7 points to the insurer’s 96 combined ratio for March. During the same month a year ago, the combined ratio was 88.8.

The first-quarter combined ratio was up 3.8 points from last year, to 94.1.

Comparing March 2011 to March 2010, direct auto sales were up 7 percent and agency-driven policies-in-force were up 5 percent. Policies from agents had a better combined ratio in March than policies from the direct route—93.8 to 96.7.

Net premiums written for March grew 8 percent to about $1.33 billion compared to the prior year. For the quarter, net premiums written grew 7 percent over the same period last year.

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