Insurance costs hit corporate earnings at Travelers and J.B. Hunt

A stealth inflationary cost is biting into corporate profits.

While some companies are now seeing lower input and freight costs, one expense is not falling: insurance.

In its earnings report Friday morning, Dow component Travelers said insurance premiums that it charges are still soaring. Premiums on business policies jumped 14% in the last quarter. Consumers are feeling the pinch, too. Homeowner renewal premiums spiked 21%, while those for auto policies jumped 17%.

Those higher prices aren’t deterring demand, though. The insurer noted “retention remained historically high” and “new business increased significantly.”

Although rising premiums are good news for insurance firms like Travelers, they are bad news for customers – whether they are individuals or companies.

J.B. Hunt Transport Services President Shelley Simpson recently said the industry was in the middle of a “freight recession.”

Luke Sharrett | Bloomberg | Getty Images

Soaring insurance costs have hit companies like freight shipper J.B. Hunt hard. During Thursday’s earnings report, it said it took a hefty $53 million charge, or 38 cents per share, related to higher insurance and claims expenses in the latest quarter.

“As we reset the premiums going into 2024, we saw upwards of 50% to 60% increases in those premiums,” CFO John Kuhlow told analysts during the company’s earnings call. “And so when we talk about the inflationary pressures that we’re seeing in 2024, it’s mostly around our premiums.”

He added that claims costs are “what’s driving a lot of the inflationary pressures” for J.B. Hunt.

CEO John Roberts reiterated those sentiments.

“As an industry, we are also seeing unprecedented pressure in the area of claims cost or settlements,” he said. He added that “ultimately, these inflationary costs get passed on to customers and consumers.”

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