Predicting the end of the soft market in insurance is about as easy as forecasting the weather. If you change the channel on your TV you’ll certainly find contradictory viewpoints from rival meteorologists.

For the September issue of Tech Decisions, I interviewed several people for an article on underwriting and asked a couple of them what their opinion was on the current soft market.

Paul Zamora, vice president of claims for the ICW Group in California believes the hard market is just around the corner.

“I originally thought it would be the fourth quarter of this year, but I’m now predicting it will be the second quarter of next year,” he says. “We’re seeing carriers increase prices in California. We’re seeing carriers produce results that are not profitable. There is less reserve for them to dip into to make their financials look better. Carriers that are going to thrive will have to operate in a highly efficient manner.”

Of course, Zamora is an underwriter and by and large this group has to be looking forward to a return to the hard market as it puts more precision into what they do.

Zamora’s comments certainly contrast with the views of Celent’s senior analyst Donald Light.

“I believe the market remains soft, with a few exceptions,” he says. “Much of that is driven by a lack of a robust economic recovery.”

Light doesn’t see the change happening as quickly as Zamora sees it, with the exceptions of coverages for the energy sector and offshore oil rigs.

With the economy slowly rebounding from the recession, insurers have been more adventurous in their underwriting. Here’s hoping the dismal recovery brightens and Zamora hits his prediction.