Average insurance rates worldwide continued their slow but steady increase during the first three months of the year, Marsh said yesterday.
The broker's latest Risk management global insurance index reveals the first quarter of 2013 was the fifth consecutive quarter when average insurance prices increased worldwide. The index, which was based at 100.0 in the second quarter of 2012, increased by 0.1 points over the period January-March to reach 100.3.
In the US, most major lines of insurance business saw rates increase by 2-4%, while outside of the US prices fell by an average of around 1%.
Renewal prices increased by an average of 0.3% in the first quarter, following the 1.2% rate growth recorded in the final three months of 2012. While rates for property insurance typically fell on renewal by 0.2%, financial and professional lines generally increased by 0.8% and casualty insurance renewals went up by 0.7%.
In terms of liability insurance, eurozone financial institutions saw their rates continue to increase on the back of fears over the region's economy, but liability prices generally declined for other major types of business in the eurozone and for financial institutions outside the single currency bloc.
Marsh attributed the firming market conditions to 'very strong' capacity and 'increased support' for business among some global insurers for both catastrophe- and non-catastrophe-exposed property risks.
Dean Klisura, Marsh's US risk practices and specialties leader, said: 'While rates continue to rise, insurers have a healthy appetite for business and this is making conditions progressively more favourable for insurance buyers. Underlying this trend are both strong capacity and increased interest from many global insurers.'
The aftermath of October's Superstorm Sandy contributed to an increase in property rates in the US Northeast as insurers restricted coverage for flood-exposed properties.
However, worldwide 2012 was a relatively quiet year for natural catastrophes and insurer capacity was comparatively greater, Marsh noted. First quarter property rates for international regions were slightly lower overall than for the first quarter of 2012.
Meanwhile, pricing in the US casualty market continued to be 'relatively stable', with increases generally in the 'low to mid single-digit range'.