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ProAssurance to Incur $7.5M Catastrophe Loss From Hurricanes

Zacks Equity Research

Specialty insurer ProAssurance Corporation PRA expects to incur catastrophe (cat) loss of $7.5 million (net of reinsurance and reinstatement premiums) for the third quarter.

These losses are from hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria, which created havoc in Texas, several states in the southeast United States and islands in the Caribbean.

The loss will be incurred in the company’s Lloyds Syndicate segment (which contributed nearly 7% of the gross premium in the first half of 2017) and is attributed to its 58% participation in business written by Lloyd's Syndicate 1729.

The expected loss is likely to weigh on the segment’s loss ratio, which deteriorated 1320 basis points year over year in the first six months of 2017. The segment reported a 11.4% increase in revenues in the first half of 2017.

Year to date, the stock has lost 2.1%, underperforming the industry which recorded growth of 10.7%.  

Third-quarter 2017 was one of the costliest in history with respect to cat loss. Mass devastation was seen in parts of the United States which continued to be ravaged by a trio of hurricanes one after another.

While Harvey rocked Houston and Texas Gulf Coast, Irma ran amok in regions across Caribbean to Florida. Both storms are considered the costliest in a decade. No sooner the country had heaved a sigh of relief, with Hurricane Jose not turning not as destructive, another hurricane, Maria, hit Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands. Maria is already deemed as a Category 5 storm.

Economic losses from Irma are estimated at about $58-$83 billion while the same from Harvey could be as high as $108 billion by Moody’s Analytics. Catastrophe modeling firm AIR Worldwide estimates industry insured losses for Hurricane Maria in the Caribbean will be between $ 40 billion and $85 billion.

Other insurers too have come up with their loss estimates. Assurant Inc. AIZ has estimated between $134 million and $140 million pre-tax of reportable catastrophe losses from Harvey and expects gross losses from Irma to exceed its retention of $125 million pretax.

The Travelers Companies, Inc. TRV estimates pre-tax catastrophe loss from Hurricane Harvey between $375 million and $750 million or $245 million and $490 million after tax. HCI Group, Inc. HCI projects loss between $100 million and $300 million from Hurricane Irma.

On the face of it, catastrophe losses cause a spike in loss ratio and hurt insurers’ underwriting margins. However, these losses act as catalysts in turning the industry's pricing cycle. The industry which has amassed a huge capital buffer and led to soft pricing (thanks to a benign cat loss environment in recent years) will likely see price hardening in certain lines of business that have been affected  the most.

ProAssurance carries a Zacks Rank #5 (Strong Sell).

You can see the complete list of today’s Zacks #1 Rank (Strong Buy) stocks here.

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