There may be hope in sight that the soft market has begun to harden. According to Towers Perrin's most recent commercial lines insurance pricing and profitability trends survey, the smallest decline in commercial property/casualty insurance prices in four years—less than 1%—offers optimism that the soft market is reaching its end.

The report goes on to say that prices for property and directors and officers (D&O) liability rose slightly in the first quarter of 2009. Prices for large accounts (annual premiums in excess of $50,000) also increased during the first quarter. This pricing upturn is not surprising, as large account prices eroded substantially more than middle-market and small accounts in 2007 and 2008. By comparison, small-account commercial prices continued their pattern of steady, but smaller, decreases.

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