Weedin indicates that even in the P&C market for large, corporate clients, insurers are picking their battles. If there's no competition, he estimates that rates could up 5% higher for renewals. If there's some competition but an established relationship between insurer and client, Weedin thinks rates "could go up a little bit," but not by much. If there's heavy competition for a key client, though, prices will go down and terms will get better.
"With those large, corporate clients, everyone is given good customer service because nobody wants to lose that business," says Weedin. "So, all things being equal, what's the differentiator? As of right now, it's price."
Therein lies the challenge for AIG and its competitors in the months ahead: With everyone chasing the same clients, it will be a challenge to stay on top without looking weak. Indications that AIG is desperate could once again raise questions about its viability and spook the very clients it's trying to capture and retain.
"The No. 1 thing that insurance companies are looking at is, they need to make acquisitions," says Weedin. "They need to get new clients in. They are being very aggressive - whether it's AIG, whether it's Firemans Fund, whether it's
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. Insurance companies are being very aggressive - if they like the risk."
-- Written by Lauren Tara LaCapra in New York
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