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Outlook for industrial traces improved: AM Greatest – Enterprise Insurance

AM. Best & Co. Inc. announced on Friday that it had revised its outlook for the US commercial insurance segment from negative to stable, citing favorable COVID-19 business interruption decisions for insurers, among other things.

The relatively minor negative impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on commercial insurance insurers' financial performance in 2020 and through the third quarter of 2021 was a primary driver behind the change in outlook, Best said.

"In many lines, the drop in claim frequency has more than offset any increase in severity – commercial automobiles are the line where this pattern is most evident," Best noted in his report.

Litigation related to denial of insurance coverage due to business interruption claims has generally been settled in favor of insurers, with many cases dismissed without trial, Best said.

On a normalized basis, the segment delivered better underwriting results in 2020 than in 2019.

With greater clarity on the impact of the pandemic, the Oldwick, New Jersey-based rating agency has also revised its market segment outlook to stable for several key commercial businesses, including workers' compensation, commercial real estate and guarantees.

The continued strong price momentum across all commercial lines, with the exception of workers' compensation, was another factor in the change in outlook, Best said.

Best expects interest rates to continue to rise, but the rate of growth is likely to slow down through 2022. “We assume that premium growth in the commercial lines will slow down somewhat, but will remain strong through 2022 when the exposures stabilize,” the report said.

While higher inflation could put further pressure on goods and materials prices, the segment will have the capital to handle temporary price increases as an earnings problem, Best said.

It assumes that the segment will remain profitable despite short and long-term challenges.

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