The U.S. property/casualty industry's net income after taxes fell 85% to $7.3 billion during the first nine months of 2008 as insurers felt the one-two punch of deteriorating underwriting results and lower investment gains. As a result of deteriorating underwriting and investment results, the U.S. property/casualty industry's after-tax return on equity (return on surplus), which measures the industry's overall after-tax profitability from underwriting and investment activity, receded to 1.4% for the nine month period ended September 30, 2008; down from 9.5% posted during the same period of 2007.
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-- Net premiums written fell 0.6% to $339.3 billion, driven by ongoing competition and "soft" market conditions in almost all lines of business and geographic areas.
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-- As a result of challenging market conditions, including continued price softening, sizeable and frequent weather-related losses and the impact of significant losses reported by mortgage and financial guaranty insurers, the overall statutory combined ratio increased to 105.1 in the first nine months of 2008.
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-- Excluding the impact of groups within the A.M. Best Co. mortgage and financial guaranty composites, the U.S. property/casualty industry posted an underwriting loss of $10.9 billion and recorded a combined ratio of 102.8 during the first nine months of 2008.
The U.S. property/casualty industry's policyholder surplus declined $36.8 billion, or 7.0%, for the 12 months ended September 30, 2008.
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-- The industry's investment results continued to be pressured through the first three quarters of the year, driven by the challenges stemming from the dislocations in the financial markets along with the low interest rate environment.
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-- The personal lines segment's underwriting results deteriorated significantly through third quarter 2008 with a reported combined ratio of 104.9, compared to 95.7 through the same period of 2007.
-- The commercial lines segment's combined ratio deteriorated 13.2 percentage points to 105.4 for the first nine months of 2008, driven in part by extensive underwriting losses for mortgage and financial guaranty insurers.
-- The U.S reinsurance segment's combined ratio increased to 104.9 during the first nine months of 2008, up 10.3 points from 94.6 during the same period of 2007.
-- With three quarters down and one to go, the U.S. property/casualty industry is on pace to report its first year-end underwriting loss since 2005, breaking its two-year consecutive streak of recording an underwriting profit.