While insurance brokers say they are starting to detect signs of firming in the commercial insurance marketplace, buyers on average are still seeing premium rates decline. At the same time, some intermediaries expressed concern that the ongoing economic crisis could undercut any benefits they would normally see on their top- and bottom lines once prices do begin to rebound significantly.

One of the earliest warnings on this latter point was issued at the beginning of the year by Brian Duperreault, president and chief executive officer of Marsh & McLennan Companies.

Speaking at the annual joint meeting of the Association of Professional Insurance Women and the New York Chapter of CPCU in early January, he said that while there are indications of hardening in the insurance market, brokers may not necessarily see the usual benefits of it in terms of higher revenue and bigger profits.

“We are in the beginning stages of a hardening market, but countervailing economic forces are turning this into our first ‘invisible’ hard market,” he told his audience.

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