It's no surprise that the workers' compensation market has been challenged by a host of issues that have driven costs skyward for carriers and agents. According to the Council of Insurance Agents and Brokers (CIAB), Washington, D.C., commercial property/casualty insurance premiums continued to decline significantly during third quarter 2004.

Citing workers' compensation as an isolated "trouble spot," CIAB notes agents' biggest concern: price competition and insurer solvency. Other issues, such as the medical care portion of lost-time claims, weak return-to-work incentives and excessive litigation further contribute to this vertical market's troubles-and to carriers' ability to remain competitive.

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