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    Willis Re: Downward Trend in Large Motor Claims Continues, as UK Car Insurance Premiums Show Significant Increases

    London, UK, December 07, 2011 – UK motor insurance premiums have continued to rise in 2011, with some drivers facing price increases of up to 50 percent. At the same time, the fall in the number of deaths and serious injuries on British roads has resulted in a 10 percent year-on-year reduction in the frequency of large claims (measured against premium income). This is according to the findings of the annual UK Motor Market Review by Willis Re, a leading reinsurance advisor and part of Willis Group Holdings (NYSE:WSH), the global insurance broker.

    Willis Re’s fourth annual review, which surveys over 50 percent of the UK motor insurance market, examines patterns in large motor claims. A summary of the report can be accessed here.

    Commenting on the main findings of the report, Richard Bloss, Executive Director, Willis Re, notes that the motor market is in a state of flux, both on the insurance and reinsurance side. “We’ve seen significant increases in what people are paying for their car insurance, and a gradual but clearly discernible pattern of reducing numbers of deaths and serious injuries on the UK roads.”

    Bloss added: “At the same time, those serious claims that are still happening are tending to cost on average nine percent more than last year, and many are being settled as continuous regular payments for the remainder of the claimant’s life, which dramatically increases the time horizon.”

    Other key trends highlighted by the survey include:

    • The tendency for large bodily injury claim values to escalate faster than inflation has been recognised for some time. The report shows, however, that the rate of escalation has remained relatively constant over time – a good point for motor insurers to be able to demonstrate in motor treaty negotiations.

    • Insurers are generally becoming more accurate in their reserving of claims. As earlier reserving becomes the norm, we are seeing general claims valuation reaching maturity much more quickly than in the past. The study shows that claims reserves are six percent closer to maturity by the end of the second year than they were in 2010.

    • Increases in original premiums and falling accident numbers have meant that the number of large claims (up to a value of £5million), measured against premium, have reduced by 10 percent.

    • Male policyholders are twice as likely as female policyholders to have a large claim.

    General market indices of comparative motor premiums have shown significant increases of up to 50 percent in the past year. Catherine Pearson, Executive Director, Willis Re, says that this data has to be treated with care: “When we look at the actual price rises achieved by insurers, they generally seem to be less dramatic than some of the indices suggest. We think that what might be happening is that drivers faced by substantial premium increases may well be adjusting the cover they buy in order to mitigate the up-front cost.” Taking this into account, the Willis Re study has used more conservative assumptions of annual rate change.

    Participating companies have found the study to be a valuable source of data on claims trends in the wider UK market, but Grange Turner, Executive Director, Willis Re, says the benefits of the research do not stop there. “The large database that we now have enables us to measure with some accuracy, the relative likelihood of suffering a claim from the different sectors of the book. We now know, for example, that non-comprehensive policyholders are nearly twice as likely to suffer a serious loss than people buying comprehensive cover.”

    Turner added: “Once we look at these relativities on a multiplicative basis, we can examine how an insurer’s developing portfolio changes the overall scale of risk to the excess of loss reinsurance. Using this information, we’ve had considerable success in recent years in convincing reinsurers to offer pricing reductions for our clients.”

    The full contents of the report are issued on a confidential basis to participating insurers who have provided data for the study, but the public is able to access a summary of the report here.

    About Willis Re

    One of the world's leading reinsurance brokers, Willis Re is known for its world-class Analytics capabilities, which it combines with its Capital Markets and Reinsurance expertise in a seamless, integrated offering that helps clients increase the value of their businesses. Willis Re serves the risk management and risk transfer needs of a diverse, global client base that includes all of the world's top insurance and reinsurance carriers as well as national catastrophe schemes in many countries around the world. The broker's global team of experts offers services and advice that help clients make better reinsurance decisions, access worldwide capital markets and negotiate optimum terms. For more information, visit www.WillisRe.com.

    About Willis

    Willis Group Holdings plc is a leading global insurance broker. Through its subsidiaries, Willis develops and delivers professional insurance, reinsurance, risk management, financial and human resource consulting and actuarial services to corporations, public entities and institutions around the world. Willis has more than 400 offices in nearly 120 countries, with a global team of approximately 17,000 employees serving clients in virtually every part of the world. Additional information on Willis may be found at www.willis.com.

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