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After a year of near-record catastrophe losses, increasing combined ratios and highly disappointing investment yields, the natural expectation is that insurers looking to stabilize their books have but one choice: to raise prices.

And yes, some signs of a market hardening are becoming visible: The most recent Council of Insurance Agents & Brokers pricing survey, for example, indicated average rates in the third quarter turned positive for the first time since the end of 2003.

Also, MarketScout’s latest pricing barometer yet again showed no rate decrease, prompting its CEO, Richard Kerr, to opine, “With two consecutive months of a flat market, we are on the cusp of a composite rate increase.”

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