The U.S. property/casualty industry’s operating performance deteriorated sharply in 2011, according to a new report from A.M. Best, as catastrophe-related losses led to the industry’s largest underwriting loss since 2002.

Insurers were impacted by an unprecedented number of natural catastrophe events in the United States and abroad throughout the year, resulting in catastrophe-related losses more than doubling the total reported in 2010. As a result, A.M. Best expects all three segments—personal lines, commercial lines and U.S. reinsurers—to report relatively large underwriting losses, the industry’s policyholders’ surplus is anticipated to decline modestly and return measures are expected to be in the low single digits.

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