WEISS RATINGS

Eight Insurers Command 67% Market Share
in Hurricane-Prone States

PALM BEACH GARDENS, Fla., August 14, 2002 - In five hurricane-prone states1, only eight large property and casualty insurers are exposed to 66.8 percent of the home insurance risk, according to a recent analysis by Weiss Ratings, Inc., the nation's leading independent provider of ratings and analyses of financial services companies, mutual funds, and stocks.

In 2001, eight carriers commanded 83.1 percent in Texas, 66.7 percent in South Carolina, 64.9 percent in Louisiana, 60.0 percent in North Carolina, and 51.3 percent of the market in Florida. Those eight companies are:

Company Premium in
Hurricane-Prone
States ($000)
Market Share
Hurricane-Prone
States (%)
Market Share
National
(%)
State Farm Group 2,259,936 25.8 21.8
Allstate Insurance Group 1,210,022 13.8 11.4
Zurich Financial Services Group 754,973 8.6 8.6
Nationwide Corp. 495,070 5.7 4.6
USAA Group 477,837 5.5 3.6
Citigroup, Inc. 330,899 3.8 3.6
Chubb & Son, Inc 165,757 1.9 2.6
Hartford Fire and Casualty Group 144,051 1.6 1.6
Top Eight Cos. 5,838,545 66.8 57.8
All Cos. in Hurricane-Prone States 8,743,077

Two companies - State Farm and Allstate - controlled 39.6 percent of the total market share in the five most hurricane-prone states last year. In Louisiana, the two insurers continue to dominate the market, writing more than half (52.3 percent) of the homeowners premiums in the state.

"It is particularly alarming that so few insurers control so much of the market in hurricane-prone states," said Melissa Gannon, vice president of Weiss Ratings, Inc. "This directly contradicts the purpose of insurance, which is to spread risk. Insurers and consumers are at great risk if a catastrophic event causes serious financial damage, leaving policyholders in danger of losing their coverage."

Over-exposure in a hurricane-prone state portends danger for the financial health of an insurer. For the 2002 season, there are nine named storms predicted. As of December 31, 2001, USAA had the most exposure, with 35.1 percent of its total homeowners business in the five most hurricane-prone states. Among the remaining seven insurers, the exposure ranged from 17.2 percent (Chubb) to 29.1 percent (Nationwide Corp).

The growing concentration of the homeowners insurance market is a national phenomenon that has been progressing for many years. At year-end 2001, the same eight insurers controlled a record 58.4 percent of the market, compared to only 26 percent in 1965. State Farm and Allstate have increased their market penetration even more dramatically, up from just six percent of the national market in 1965 to 33.2 percent in 2001.

"Unfortunately, consumers are paying the price - fewer choices and higher premiums - as the industry's giants continue to dominate the market," said Ms. Gannon.

Weiss issues safety ratings on more than 15,000 financial institutions, including property and casualty insurers, HMOs, life and health insurers, Blue Cross Blue Shield plans, banks, and brokers. Weiss also rates the risk-adjusted performance of more than 11,000 mutual funds and more than 9,000 stocks. Weiss Ratings is the only major rating agency that receives no compensation from the companies it rates. Revenues are derived strictly from sales of its products to consumers, businesses, and libraries.

Consumers needing more information on the financial safety of a specific company can purchase a rating and summary analysis for as little as $7.95 through the Weiss Ratings website at www.WeissRatings.com, or starting at $15 by calling 800-289-9222.


1 States ranked by the number of direct hurricane hits between 1900 and 2000 according to the National Hurricane Center (www.nhc.noaa.gov): Florida (60); Texas (37); North Carolina (27); Louisiana (26); and South Carolina (14).


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