Property-casualty premium rates for November showed a continueddownward swing with a composite decrease of 9 percent compared tothe same period last year, according to MarketScout.

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MarketScout, the Dallas-based online electronic insuranceexchange, compiled its findings from its own submissions,interviews with industry executives and surveys conducted by theNational Alliance for Insurance Education and Research.

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The firm said workers' compensation and general liabilityrepresented the largest segment of the market and were down 9 and10 percent respectively. Property, business interruption and inlandmarine continued to soften further with rate decreases of 4percent. Crime and surety were the only coverages with priceincreases, which were up 2 percent.

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“Effective product distribution is becoming more important toall insurers as the soft market continues,” said Richard Kerr,founder and CEO of MarketScout.

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Mr. Kerr said, “Insurers must develop good relationships withagents who control profitable books of business in theirunderwriting target zone. Frequently, these agents are locatedoutside of the major metropolitan areas where rates are not cut asdeeply, largely because of the absence of intense competition thatis generated by the larger, more aggressive retailers andwholesalers.”

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“Reaching rural agents and their customers has traditionallybeen difficult. However, more of this business is now accessiblevia online aggregators,” he continued. “Even with access from theaggregators, this business can be tough to win because of theagent's loyalty to smaller regional companies who have beensupporting them for years.”

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Looking at account size, premium rates were down for all sizes.Small accounts were down the least at 7 percent, while medium sizeaccounts were down 10 percent. Jumbo accounts were down 11 percent,and large accounts decreased the most at 12 percent.

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