NU Online News Service, Sept. 8, 3:24 p.m. EDT

Property and casualty rate reductions continued in August, but the degree of reductions has moderated, according to MarketScout.

In its monthly “Market Barometer” report, MarketScout said the composite rate for p&c placements in the U.S. was down 4 percent for August 2010, compared to a 5 percent reduction in August 2009.

Rates are down more in August than they were in July, but MarketScout noted that the volume of business placed in August is “considerably smaller than in most other months.”

Noting a trend over the last year, Richard Kerr, founder and chief executive officer of MarketScout, said, “Beginning in August of 2009, the composite p&c rate has been drifting between minus 5 percent and minus 3 percent–a very narrow range as compared to the wide swings during the last several years.”

Large accounts, defined as premium from $250,001 to $1 million, saw the largest rate decreases at 5 percent. Jumbo accounts, with premium over $1 million, and medium accounts, with premium from $25,001 to $250,000, both saw 4 percent decreases. Rates for small accounts were down 3 percent.

By coverage class, general liability led the way for rate decreases at 6 percent. Commercial property was down 4 percent, while inland marine, commercial auto and workers’ compensation were all down 3 percent. Business interruption, business owners policy, umbrella/excess, directors and officers liability, employment practices liability, and surety were down 2 percent, and professional liability, fiduciary and crime were down 1 percent.

With respect to industry class, MarketScout said the service industry saw the greatest rate reductions at 5 percent, followed by manufacturing at 4 percent. Contracting, habitational and transportation saw 3 percent decreases, while public entities and energy rates were down 2 percent.

MarketScout is an electronic insurance exchange that “underwrites and distributes hundreds of product lines to over 35,000 agency network members across the United States,” the firm noted, adding that “over 50 ‘A’-rated carriers participate in the MarketScout exchange platform at”