In 2006, U.S. property-casualty insurers did something that seemed next to impossible nearly a decade ago, collectively posting a combined ratio more than seven-and-a-half points under breakeven–or 92.4 overall. An NU analysis found that a combination of factors converged in 2006 to produce a combined ratio that experts say was the best since the 1930s.

A 92.4 combined ratio seemed well out of reach back in 1998, when experts were questioning the sustainability of a 1997 combined ratio that was nine points higher. In fact, it wasn’t even on anyone’s radar screen at the end of 2005, when analysts polled by the Insurance Information Institute predicted that the 2006 combined ratio would come in at 98.

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