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Pandemic losses hurt the property-casualty bottom line

The pandemic and other catastrophe losses hit many insurers hard in first-half 2020, especially those writing events cancellation and workers’ compensation. To illustrate, North American property-casualty insurers saw first-half annualized GAAP operating return-on-average equity fall to 2.8% from 8.3% the year before, in large part due to US$6.8 billion in incurred losses related to COVID-19 and concurrent drops in premium volume for key lines.1 Overall, the year-to-date total return of S&P’s Insurance Industry Index lagged the broader S&P 500 by 24.6% as of September 30, 2020.2 Given the pandemic’s impact on employment, business activity, and trade, global nonlife premiums are expected to be flat for full-year 2020, including a 1% decline in advanced markets.3 However, despite these challenges, the industry may yet rebound to 3% growth in 2021, led by a potential 7% boost in emerging regions (figure 1).4 Source

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