Best's Review



From the Editor's Desk
Making It Work

Workers’ comp turns in profitable results, but insurers face competitive pressure. Also, the new CEO of LIMRA and LOMA speaks of rapid change. Homeowners insurers face volatility in a range of states.
  • Patricia Vowinkel
  • November 2019
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Workers' comp was a problem child for years. A quick look at AM Best data from 2008 shows many of the biggest workers' comp insurers saddled with combined ratios of more than 100, reflecting unprofitable underwriting results.

Some of the top workers' comp writers began cutting back their market share over the last decade. Liberty Mutual, the No. 1 workers' comp writer in 2008 with more than 10% market share now has only a little more than 4% market share, putting it at No. 7 in the rankings. American International Group, which had more than 9% market share in 2008, now has just under 3% market share, making it the No. 9 writer.

The trends have shifted in the intervening years and the business is now profitable, but competitive. November is Workers' Compensation Insurance Awareness Month. Workers' comp is the largest commercial line of insurance with about $58 billion in direct premiums written in 2018, up about 24% from $46.8 billion in 2008. Commercial auto, by comparison had direct premiums written in 2018 of $40.7 billion.

In the November issue, Best's Review looks at some of the latest developments in the workers' comp business.

In “An Oasis in the Desert,” Best's Review examines the state of the workers' comp market and where it's headed. The combined ratio for private carriers during the 2018 calendar year was 83, the lowest since the 1930s, according to the NCCI's 2019 State of the Line Report.

Workers' comp coverage for first responders is a growing concern in many states. In “Stress Relief,” Best's Review looks at new legislation to provide coverage for first responders with post-traumatic stress disorder. The Sandy Hook school shooting brought attention to the issue of PTSD in first responders, which historically was not covered by workers' comp unless accompanied by a physical injury.

In 2019, 26 states were considering legislation addressing coverage for mental-only injuries for first responders with PTSD.

Insurers in all sectors have been under pressure to move quickly to respond to customer expectations and to stay on top of advances in technology as well as comply with legislative or regulatory requirements.

For the life insurance sector, change is imperative, according to David Levenson, the new president and CEO of LIMRA and LOMA.

In “A New Road Map,” Levenson speaks with Best's Review about the challenges facing life insurers. “The pace of change is as great as it's ever been, and it's only getting faster,” he says. He speaks about his years in Japan and how that helped him recognize the importance of understanding people and cultures.

In the November issue, Best's Review also takes a closer look at the homeowners insurance market.

In “Home, Volatile Homeowners,” Best's Review takes an in-depth look at the homeowners insurance market. Losses from hurricanes and earthquakes are often a major factor in the results for homeowners insurers. But data from AM Best shows that volatility goes well beyond the Florida and California markets.

To read these and other features, go to

Patricia Vowinkel, Executive Editor,

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