Best’s Market Segment Report: U.S. Nonstandard Auto Market Starts to Show Signs of Improvement

December 20, 2018

OLDWICK, N.J.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Dec 20, 2018--AM Best is seeing initial signs that the private passenger nonstandard automobile segment is beginning to improve after years of unfavorable results, including continued premium growth in 2017 and through mid-year 2018.

A new Best’s Market Segment Report, “Early Signs of Improvement in Nonstandard Auto Market,” states that the combined ratio for the population of private passenger nonstandard auto insurance companies followed in this report improved to 102.2 in 2017, compared with 107.9 in the previous year and a 10-year average of 106.5. Underwriting results were particularly poor in 2015-2016, reflecting higher incurred loss costs and higher repair costs for vehicles with cameras, sensors and other advanced technologies, as well as escalating medical costs on bodily injury claims. A greater number of miles being driven, in part because of lower gas prices, and a greater percentage of distracted drivers, also have played roles in the unprofitable results.

The recent improvements reflect a variety of carriers’ underwriting initiatives, including increasing rates significantly over the last few years. As the auto premium base expanded in 2018, loss cost trends and severity increases have mostly been in line with companies’ expectations. The composite’s first-half 2018 combined ratio is more than five points lower than the full-year 2017 combined ratio. The insurers followed in this report also continued to generate pretax and net income through the first half of 2018, with first-half earnings that more than doubled year over year.

Nonstandard auto policies typically are offered to drivers subject to risk factors that exceed those defined by a traditional auto insurance policy, making it difficult, if not impossible, to obtain insurance at standard or preferred rates. These policies are highly customized to policyholders’ specific needs and pricing and terms can vary widely. Some large national private passenger auto insurers have expanded their presence in the nonstandard auto insurance market through more efficient technology platforms. The resulting competitive pressure on smaller writers in the composite has prevented some from being able to maintain their presence in the marketplace, leading to some being acquired by the national writers.

AM Best believes the recent trends are indicators that the number and magnitude of rate increases can be expected to subside somewhat over the near term, especially given the high level of competition in the personal auto market. However, medical severity and auto repair costs for increasingly complex cars are likely to continue rising. History has shown that a change in auto frequency, positive or negative, can have a noticeable impact on the underwriting profitability of automobile-related lines. In addition, nonstandard auto premiums generally decline during recessionary periods, with the resulting drop in the premium base hurting profitability.

To access the full copy of this special report, please visit http://www3.ambest.com/bestweek/purchase.asp?record_code=281439.

AM Best is a global rating agency and information provider with a unique focus on the insurance industry. Visit www.ambest.com for more information.

Copyright © 2018 by A.M. Best Rating Services, Inc. and/or its affiliates. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

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CONTACT: David Blades, CPCU

Senior Industry Research Analyst

+1 908 439 2200, ext. 5422

david.blades@ambest.comBob Skrabal

Financial Analyst

+1 908 439 2200, ext. 5792

bobby.skrabal@ambest.comChristopher Sharkey

Manager, Public Relations

+1 908 439 2200, ext. 5159

christopher.sharkey@ambest.com Jim Peavy

Director, Public Relations

+1 908 439 2200, ext. 5644





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PUB: 12/19/2018 05:11 PM/DISC: 12/20/2018 08:30 AM


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