The year 2011 was the second most costly for insured losses and included the highest-ever level of insured earthquake losses. According to a report from Marsh, this is the key driver of the rise of global property insurance rates in the first quarter of 2012.

The report, “Global Insurance Market Quarterly Briefing: Q1 2012,” indicates that global property insurance rates continued to firm in the first quarter of 2012 despite the absence of major natural catastrophes.

In countries affected by losses, rates for catastrophe-exposed risks continued to increase at a higher rate than risks with no catastrophe exposures. In the United States, rates for catastrophe-exposed risks generally increased between 10 percent and 20 percent, while property accounts with no catastrophe exposure typically rose by up to 10 percent.

“The global commercial property insurance market is continuing to show signs of upwards rate trends, especially for catastrophe-exposed risks,” said Dean Klisura, U.S. risk practices leader, Marsh. “In the U.S., the property market continues to be in a state of transition with insureds more likely to experience rate increases than those renewing with flat or modest rate decreases. We believe that this trend will continue in the short term, with the average rate of increase continuing to rise month over month.”

The extensive catastrophes of 2011 are also affecting other areas of risk, such as contingent business interruption, where insurers globally are taking a more cautious approach and asking for detailed information before underwriting the risk, according to Marsh. 

The report also identified a struggling U.S. workers’ comp market, noting a deterioration in the underlying trends as the frequency and severity of claims continues to grow. And, directors and officers insurance rates rose on average between 20 percent to 50 percent in the first quarter of 2012.

Demand for trade credit insurance increased due to continued unease over the creditworthiness of companies in the Eurozone. Contributing most to this increase is Asia, where demand for trade credit insurance was by up to 60 percent in the quarter. United States claims frequency was steady.

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