While it's not necessarily reason for insurers to throw up their hands and crack open the champagne, a preliminary review by SNL Financial of Q3 statutory financial data for U.S. property/casualty insurers found modest improvement in underwriting profitability and additional stabilization through realized and unrealized capital gains. 

With data available for nearly 88% of expected P&C filers, the industry (excluding financial and mortgage guarantor companies) is on pace to report a $536.0 million underwriting gain in Q3 2009, an encouraging sign when compared to the $7.7 billion loss the industry experienced during the same period in 2008, SNL says. Losses and expenses totaled $93.7 million, down from $107.2 million at this time last year. The loss ratio, defined as losses and LAE (loss adjustment expense) to net premiums written, fell by nearly 9 percentage points to 71.7%.

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