Insurers are seeking rate increases as the industry's reserve releases dropped for the fourth quarter, according to a report from Stifel Nicolaus. Reserve releases of 54 insurers were 26% lower in the fourth quarter compared with the same period in 2010, said Meyer Shields of Stifel Nicolaus. The decrease "once again [suggests] that reserve releases are decreasingly masking accident-year underwriting result deterioration inevitably stemming from prior periods' declining rates, 'normal' claim inflation, and the ongoing spate of global natural catastrophes," the brokerage firm said.

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