NU Online News Service, Oct. 1, 2003, 5:45 p.m. EDT – Top insurance executives are more optimistic about their companies and their industry this year than they were a year ago, according to results of an informal survey conducted by KPMG L.L.P., New York.

KPMG is basing the results on responses from more than 100 executives who attended an insurance industry conference that the firm held Monday and Tuesday in Chicago.

Only 68% of the participating executives believe that insurers will have a strong or moderate ability to increase profit margins over the next three years, down from 75% in 2002.

But 70% of the participants say their own companies will perform “above expectations” or “significantly ahead of expectations” in the year ahead, up from 59%.

The executives are also gaining respect for their U.S. competitors.

The percentage who worry most about “international financial services companies” has fallen to 15% this year, from 53% in 2000, while the percentage who worry most about other insurance companies has increased to 62%, from 32%.

Other survey results:

- Only 11% of the participants expect life and health premium revenue to fall, down from 18%.

- Thirty percent of the participants say distribution is one of the most important areas for future growth, up from 20%.