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Insurance Revenue To Post First Gain Since 2007, Fitch Says

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Dec. 7 (Bloomberg) -- U.S. property and casualty insurers’ premium revenue will probably rise next year for the first time since 2007, on a rebound in sales of personal automobile coverage, Fitch Ratings said.

Premium revenue may rise to $427 billion next year from an estimate of $422 billion in 2010, Fitch said today in a report. Revenue peaked in 2007 at $445.3 billion, Jim Auden, a managing director at Fitch, said in an interview.

For personal insurance, in which carriers sell coverage to individuals, “overall trends are more positive than for commercial lines,” Fitch said in the report.

Allstate Corp., the largest publicly traded U.S. home and auto insurer, and MetLife Inc. are combining car and residential policies in an effort to retain customers. Insurers are seeking to reverse the revenue decline caused when the recession forced individuals and business clients to reduce coverage.

“We expect retention to continue to improve in 2011,” William J. Mullaney, president of New York-based MetLife’s U.S. business, said yesterday in a presentation to investors.

Fitch said in the report that the outlook for the U.S. property and casualty insurers’ ratings is stable. Companies may face pressure on investment income, after interest rates fell, the ratings firm said.

To contact the reporter on this story: Noah Buhayar in New York at nbuhayar@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Dan Kraut at dkraut2@bloomberg.net.

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