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Catastrophe losses in 2011 led to the U.S. P&C industry’s largest underwriting loss since 2002, according to A.M. Best. And while the latest MarketScout barometer shows that 2012 began with another month of commercial-lines rate increases, Best maintains that a true hard market is likely “at least a year or two away.”

In a Feb. 6 special report on the U.S. P&C industry’s 2011 results, Best says $44.1 billion in catastrophe losses for the year helped drive net income down 49.2 percent to $21.9 billion. In 2010, industry net income was $43.1 billion and catastrophe losses totaled $19.6 billion.

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