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Major property & casualty lines showed profits in '97

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All of Missouri's major lines of property and casualty insurance were profitable in 1997, led by medical malpractice and workers' compensation insurance, according to a release from the state's Department of Insurance.

Average property and casualty insurance profits equaled 17 cents of each dollar in premium earned for insurers operating in Missouri, based on companies' reports to a multi-state regulatory body. All statistics reflect 1997 performance, the most recent available data.

Those profit levels reached up to 43 cents of the premium dollar for medical malpractice insurance and 26 cents for workers' compensation coverage of employees injured on the job.

Insurance companies report their operating data to the National Association of Insurance Commissioners, a Kansas City-based organization of all state and territorial insurance directors.

The association in December made available 1997 state-by-state allocations that allow calculation of Missouri-only financial performance for the industry.

In Missouri, insurers in 1997 paid or incurred benefits that averaged 58 cents of each premium dollar earned. No line of insurance paid out or incurred future benefit payments of more than 75 cents of each dollar.

The 17 percent profit figure in 1997 for all lines compared to almost 14 percent for Missouri in 1996. Missouri also exceeded the 15 percent national average in 1997.

The release from the Department of Insurance said Missouri traditionally has been more profitable for insurance carriers than the country as a whole.

Rebounding financially in 1997 was industry performance in homeowners insurance, which went from a 2.5 percent loss in Missouri in 1996 to a 14.4 percent profit.

Also, farm owners lines posted a 12.6 percent profit, compared to losses of 3.5 percent the year before.

Among the other Missouri lines of insurance performance, as reported by the department:

?Personal property auto lines profits were up slightly to 9.6 percent in 1997, compared to 9.3 percent in 1996. The U.S. average in 1997 was 10.3 percent.

?Commercial auto lines were down in 1997 to 4.9 percent profit. That's less than the 11.8 percent figure for Missouri in 1996 and below the national average of 8.6 percent.

?Fire lines were more profitable in 1997 at 20.5 cents per premium dollar earned, up from 15.3 percent in 1996. The fire lines of insurance in Missouri outperformed national averages of 17.7 percent in 1997.

?Inland marine insurance lines posted a 6.4 percent profit in 1997, down from 17 percent the year before and

below the 18.2 percent national average.

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