D&O premium pool ‘must treble’ to return to profitability

A new report – called “Show Me The Money!” by insurer XL Catlin and law firm Wotton + Kearney – is the second in a series of three white papers on securities class actions and their impact on the Directors & Officers Liability (D&O) market. The main conclusion is that Directors’ and officers’ (D&O) insurance premiums are under-priced significantly and need to rise strongly to restore profitability. The main risk areas are those exposed to securities class actions,

It says Directors & Officer’s Side A, Side B and Side C cover has been chronically underpriced since at least 2011, while the frequency of class actions is increasing as more plaintiff lawyers and litigation funders enter the space.

The analysis suggests last year’s overall premium pool of about $210 million would need to increase by at least three times to establish a profitable market, if it is assumed all other factors stay unchanged.

“Recent market developments would indicate most D&O insurers are now endeavouring to restore some semblance of profitability to their portfolios after years of market losses,” the report says.

Based on historical averages, total settlement values for last year are projected to be about $446 million, the highest annual total on record. Early indications for this year suggest the average frequency of class actions is continuing to trend upward, the report says.

The total value of securities class action settlements since 1999 is estimated to be about $1.58 billion.

The third paper will examine potential strategies to restore underwriting profitability.