Insurance Notes

1. Hartford increases its buyback authorization by a billion dollars. Well good. Like Allstate, they are oozing free cash flow in this environment, and don’t have as many reinvestment opportunities; they ought to be returning cash to shareholders, but cautiously, buying only on dips.

2. How do you lower personal lines insurance premiums, if you are a state regulator? Oddly, the answer is to not panic and create mandates for insurers in the state, but to allow free entry and exit for the insurers. Premium rate filings should either not be required, or be “file and use.” If a regulator does that, the insurers will trust the regulator, and there will be no lack of insurance companies seeking business in the state. Premium rates will fall.

Immature regulators place demands on insurance companies (leaving aside fraud issues). Mature regulators focus on fraud, and let the market do its work.