SNL Financial: Fast-growing Auto Insurers May Leave Slower Competitors in the Dust, Q2 Reflects

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A few large auto insurers are starting to separate themselves from the pack based on year-over-year premium growth for Q2.

Personal auto insurance premiums continued to escalate in the second quarter of 2013, but the growth was not evenly dispersed throughout the industry. As a result, auto insurance market share rankings, which have remained static among the top players for years, could transform if some industry leaders are unable to match the premium growth of their higher-paced competitors.

Overall, premiums appear to be on an upward trajectory for auto insurers, though some have clearly benefited more than others. In the second quarter, five of the top 30 companies boasted year-over-year premium growth in excess of 10% while six saw their premiums decline. Taken as a whole, the top 30 companies' premium grew by almost 4.8%, an improvement compared to the strong 4.4% growth shown in the first quarter.

The highest profile market share race is among two of the three largest personal auto insurers. Allstate Corp. and GEICO Corp. are neck and neck in the contest to be the second-largest U.S. private auto insurer. As our 2012 study shows, GEICO's consistent large growth and Allstate's recent flat premiums have led to the close race. Year-to-date, GEICO has written more personal auto premiums than Allstate, $9.14 billion to $8.99 billion, respectively. However, the two giants have traded places in each quarter. In the first quarter, GEICO's $4.72 billion in premium surpassed Allstate's $4.53 billion. In the second quarter, Allstate's $4.46 billion narrowly outpaced GEICO's $4.42 billion by less than 1% of total premiums. However, including the $38.1 million in premiums from Berkshire Hathaway Inc. entities outside of GEICO, the entire Berkshire enterprise just slips past Allstate for the second quarter by less than $3 million.

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Christina Twomey
SNL Financial
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