LOS ANGELES September 19, 2006 – MSB, the worldwide leader in building cost valuation technologies, announces the release of its 2006 Insurance to Value (ITV) Quality Index. The ITV Index, published annually since 1999, highlights the estimated amount of undervalued residential properties in the U.S. economy, with a particular emphasis on the nearly 80 million single-family, main street type dwellings.
For 2006, MSB estimates that 58% of the residential housing stock in the U.S. is currently undervalued for insurance purposes by an estimated 21%. This is an overall improvement of approximately 2% from the previous year in the number of undervalued properties. The estimated amount of undervaluation, a number that directly relates to insurance coverage for homeowners’ insurance risks is also down slightly from 2005 (59%/22%).
“The ITV Quality Index provides an important reference point for continued understanding and improvement of coverage associated with homeowner’s insurance business,” states Peter Wells, President of MSB. “While not an absolute indicator of insurance adequacy on any particular policy, the Index helps insurance companies, their agents and policyholders appreciate the magnitude of insurance needs nationwide and forms the only known reference point from which to assess how the industry is performing from a book of business management perspective.”
2006 Results Summary
MSB researches coverage differences occurring across large numbers of new and renewal homeowners’ policies each year to develop the ITV Quality Index. As the leading provider of building cost data to the insurance industry, millions of replacement cost calculations occur on MSB “total component” estimating systems that are able to be analyzed in aggregate for industry-wide insights. MSB also manages large numbers of claim settlement estimates through web hosted systems which information also provides insights on loss experience and coverage.
“The industry is improving its results in the ITV Index year-after-year by several percentage points,” explains Pascal Lorthioir, Chief Knowledge Officer for MSB. “Millions of new policies are better underwritten through the industry’s adoption of modern approaches to replacement cost calculations and book of business updating,” says Lorthioir.
As important as it is to have risk specific or component-based valuations performed for new policies, a substantial and very positive effect on the ITV Quality Index occurs when policyholders, agents and companies work together to update legacy information already on the books. The updating process gives insurance companies and their agents the opportunity to compare notes with consumers on the characteristics of homes insured to make certain that the replacement cost maintained for each policy fits the characteristics profile for each unique property.
With advances in automation that occurred since 1999, the property insurance industry widely accepted “total component” methods of estimating home replacement cost, leaving behind less sophisticated square foot methods that relied on less obvious “class” and “quality” distinctions. Since adopting the modern “total component” approach, the effect over the past six years has been that the numbers of undervalued properties has decreased significantly as did the percentage of undervaluation. The effect has been that 73% of properties once undervalued by 35% improved to the current 58% by 21%. While there is still more to do, this adjustment has resulted in better insurance protection for consumers, fewer regulatory complaints and substantial recovery of lost premium dollars for insurers themselves.
“The majority of new homeowner’s policies were written using modern “total component” estimating solutions this past year,” states Wells. However, the increased emphasis by property writers on catastrophic events such as the hurricanes and wind storms affecting the U.S. economy, caused focus on converting legacy books to component results to slow down. Eight major storm events over the past two years, as well as large numbers of debilitating tornadoes, occupied their attention.
Remodeling was on the rise again, both as a systemic phenomenon as well as a result of restoration work following the many catastrophes. Construction costs also rose again this past year, impacted in many areas by shortages of labor and material. Keeping up with the remodeling phenomenon affecting books of property business helps insurers isolate and correct affected accounts, and is another important reason why property writers review their book of property business regularly.
Marshall & Swift / Boeckh (MSB), an MDA company, is the leading supplier of local building cost information, residential and commercial property valuation technology and services for the property and casualty insurance sector in the United States and Canada. MSB has five offices throughout the U.S. and Canada. For information, please contact Marsha Berenson, Media Coordinator, at 800-285-1288, Ext. 2828, e-mail MAILTO:Marsha.Berenson@msbinfo.com, or visit MSB’s Web site at http://www.msbinfo.com.
MDA provides advanced information solutions that capture and process vast amounts of data, produce essential information, and improve the decision making and operational performance of business and government organizations worldwide.
Focused on markets and customers with strong repeat business potential, MDA delivers a broad spectrum of earth and space based information solutions, ranging from complex operational systems, to tailored information services, to electronic information products.
MDA employs more than 2,700 people in locations across the United States, the United Kingdom, and Canada. The Company’s common shares trade on the Toronto Stock Exchange under the symbol TSX:MDA.