Groundhogs See Premium Growth Slowing

Insurance groundhogs popped their heads out last week long enough to indicate that while property-casualty prices should keep dropping in general this year, a softening market won't necessarily come at the expense of industry profitability.

Insurers could not have been happy to see the groundhogs surveyed by the New York-based Insurance Information Institute forecasting a continued decline in the rate of growth in net premiums written to an average prediction of 2.7 percent this year, down from the 4.3 percent growth estimated for 2004. Estimates for the year ahead ranged from a high of 4 percent by optimists at Lehman Brothers and Merrill Lynch to a low of 0.9 percent by the pessimists (or are they the realists?) at Standard & Poor's.

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