TEXT-S&P: UK non-life market faces legal, regulatory change
Nov 27 - In Standard & Poor's Ratings Services' view, the U.K. non-life insurance industry is facing a number of significant regulatory developments at a vulnerable time (see "Legal And Regulatory Changes: A Help Or A Hindrance To The U.K. Non-Life Insurance Market?"). A new agreement is needed to determine the basis on which flood cover is provided beyond June 2013; legal changes in April 2013 will seek to counter rampant claims inflation in motor bodily injury lines; referral fees are to be outlawed; and the Competition Commission has set up an enquiry into the motor insurance sector. The changes are potentially positive for insurers, but significant uncertainties remain. Meanwhile, the increasing use of comparison Web sites to purchase retail lines is squeezing profit margins, the market is increasingly commoditized, and investment returns are likely to remain low. Because the U.K. non-life market is developed and mature, we expect future growth to be relatively slow. Two trends have supported results in recent years; reserve releases and tariff increases. However, these trends appear to be coming to an end. On top of relatively unfavorable industry fundamentals, this could make 2012-2013 difficult for players in the non-life market. The report is available to subscribers of RatingsDirect on the Global Credit Portal at www.globalcreditportal.com. If you are not a RatingsDirect subscriber, you may purchase a copy of the report by calling (1) 212-438-7280 or sending an e-mail to email@example.com. Ratings information can also be found on Standard & Poor's public Web site by using the Ratings search box located in the left column at www.standardandpoors.com.