Premium increases for property and casualty insurers are expected to leap at least 8 percent this year, topping last year's jump of 5.2 percent.
Analysts said the increase signals an end to a long soft market cycle, which started in the early 1990s when companies competed to lower rates while absorbing rising loss costs.
Dan Ryan, assistant vice president of New Jersey-based A.M. Best, which examines the financial conditions of insurance companies, said that Best originally projected a 5.8 percent premium volume growth for 2001 but that the figure could reach 8 percent to 8.5 percent.
"Early indications show growth to be up," Ryan said. "We continue to see signs, of further price firming of commercial lines through second quarter in pricing."