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For the agents and brokers writing commercial-lines insurance for Main Street clients, business remains tough—but some tepid signs of improvement have begun, tentatively, to appear.

“What we are really beginning to see in the soft market is stabilization,” says Mike Miley, chairman of the Independent Insurance Agents & Brokers of America and client executive for the independent agency Gibson based in South Bend, Ind.

From a pricing standpoint, premium rate decreases are “slowing down a lot” on middle-market business, Miley says. “We still see some decreases, but a lot of [pricing] is flat and some [business] may have a couple of points increase in rates.”

In another observer’s view, the best way to sum up the current climate commercial-lines agents are experiencing is “half a hard market.”

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