For our Excess and Surplus line segment, renewal prices increased for the 19th consecutive month and were up in the high single-digit range for the first quarter. Our Personal Lines business is also benefiting from rate increases over successive years and renewal premiums rose 12% in the first quarter. Policy retention continues to remain steady for each of our property casualty segments and new businesses continuing is contributing to premium growth.
New business premiums rose 6% with the more newly appointed agencies driving that growth. Our goal for new agency appointments during 2012 is 130 and we appointed 56 new agencies in the first quarter. That puts us at over 40% of the full year target. We've been out visiting with agents at our annual sales meetings. So far we have met with agencies from 25 states and in May, we'll have meetings with the agents in the balance of our states. It is encouraging to see how skilled our agents are at conveying the value of our products and services and they continue to work with us to implement price increases where they are needed. Our pricing analytics are helpful in distinguishing the more attractive new business opportunities from the less attractive ones giving us a good sense of when to walk away from business that we believe is underpriced.
Loss experience that was favorable in many respects, added to the benefits we are seeing from better pricing. Paid losses other than catastrophes were down 1.3%, a good sign given that earned premiums were up 7.1%. Our catastrophe losses were limited to specific areas and most of our operating territory benefited from milder than usual weather.
Fewer new large losses, which we define as $250,000 or more per claim, were largely responsible for improvement in current accident year results. While we realized that large losses naturally fluctuate quarter-to-quarter, we are encouraged by overall paid loss trends, which were a big reason that we experienced favorable reserve development on older accident years. Mike will discuss that more in a moment.Read the rest of this transcript for free on seekingalpha.com
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