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Combined Ratio


The Combined Ratio is a key profitability measure used in the insurance industry, representing claims and expenses as a percentage of premium income. A ratio below 100% indicates profitability, as it signifies the company is taking in more in premiums than it is paying out in claims and expenses. A ratio above 100% indicates the company is paying out more than it is earning in premiums.


The phonetic pronunciation of “Combined Ratio” would be: kuhm-bahynd rey-shee-oh.

Key Takeaways

  1. The Combined Ratio is a key measurement used in the insurance industry to measure a company’s profitability and its underwriting success. A ratio below 100% typically indicates that the company is making a profit from its underwriting activities, while a ratio above 100% means that it is paying out more money in claims that it is receiving from premiums.
  2. The Combined Ratio is calculated as the sum of the loss ratio and the expense ratio. The loss ratio is the ratio of losses to earned premiums, while the expense ratio is the ratio of underwriting expenses to net premiums written. Therefore, Combined Ratio = (Incurred Losses + Expenses) / Earned Premium.
  3. Combined Ratio is a comprehensive measure of insurance underwriting profitability and can provide valuable insights into the operational efficiency, underwriting performance and financial health of an insurance company. A lower combined ratio indicates a more profitable and efficient operation.


The Combined Ratio is an important term in the business and finance industry, particularly within insurance companies. It gives a measure of profitability. It’s calculated by adding the loss ratio (claims and loss adjustment expenses divided by premium revenue) and the expense ratio (underwriting expenses divided by premium revenue). A combined ratio over 100% indicates that the company is paying out more in claims and expenses than the premiums it is generating, suggesting unprofitability. On the other hand, a combined ratio under 100% indicates that the insurer is making an underwriting profit. Therefore, it’s a key indicator of the financial health and operating efficiency of an insurance company.


The primary purpose of the combined ratio is to measure the profitability of an insurance company. It is mainly used to determine how well the firm has done in managing its underwriting practices and costs. The metric captures the percentage of each premium dollar that an insurance company uses to cover its claims and expenses. As such, it is a critical tool in identifying whether an insurance company’s underwriting operations are profitable or not.In the insurance industry, the combined ratio serves to indicate the overall underwriting profitability of an insurance company. Essentially, it is used to assess how much the company is earning from premiums, compared to how much it is spending to cover claims and costs related to operating expenses. A combined ratio below 100% typically signifies underwriting profitability, while a ratio over 100% implies an underwriting loss. Therefore, by monitoring this ratio, insurance companies can make data-driven decisions to ensure sustainable operations and identify areas where improvements are needed.


1. **Insurance Industry**: The combined ratio is frequently used in the insurance industry. For instance, if a health insurance company has a ratio of 90%, this means for every dollar it collects in premiums, it spends 90 cents on claim-related expenses and business operations. If the ratio exceeds 100%, it means the company is spending more money than it’s generating, thereby operating at a loss.2. **Auto Insurance Companies**: For example, Progressive Corporation, a renowned auto insurance company, reported a combined ratio of 92.4% in its Q1-2021 financial report. This indicated that the company spent 92.4 cents out of every premium dollar on claims and expenses – an effective display of operational efficiency.3. **Property and Casualty Insurers**: Travelers Insurance, a leading property, and casualty insurance provider, reported a combined ratio of 98.5% in 2020. For every dollar in premiums, Travelers spent roughly 98.5 cents on claims and expenses. With the company’s combined ratio below 100%, it signifies underwriting profitability, but it also indicates a narrow margin, as it’s close to 100%.

Frequently Asked Questions(FAQ)

What is a Combined Ratio?

A combined ratio is a crucial measure used in the insurance industry to calculate the profitability of an insurance company before the inclusion of investment income. It is the sum of both the loss ratio and the expense ratio.

How is Combined Ratio calculated?

The combined ratio is calculated by adding the loss ratio (losses and loss-adjusting expenses divided by premiums) and the expense ratio (underwriting expenses divided by premiums).

What does a Combined Ratio below 100% mean?

A combined ratio below 100% indicates that the insurance company is making an underwriting profit. This means that the premiums received are more than enough to cover the losses and expenses.

What does a Combined Ratio over 100% suggest?

If the combined ratio is over 100%, it suggests that the insurance company is paying out more in claims and expenses than it is receiving from premium payments. This means that the company is making an underwriting loss.

Can a company still be profitable with a Combined Ratio greater than 100%?

Yes, an insurance company can still be profitable with a combined ratio greater than 100% due to the income earned from investing the premiums received.

How can an insurance company improve its Combined Ratio?

Improving a combined ratio can involve reducing claims, lowering expenses, or increasing the premiums charged.

Is a lower Combined Ratio always better?

Generally, a lower combined ratio is better as it indicates higher profitability. However, extremely low ratios may suggest that the company is overpriced and could lose market share to competitors offering lower premiums.

Does the Combined Ratio reflect an insurance company’s overall profitability?

Not entirely. The combined ratio reflects the profitability from underwriting activities but does not take into account the income an insurer generates from its investments.

What other financial metrics are used alongside the Combined Ratio in insurance?

Other important financial metrics include the loss ratio, expense ratio, return on equity (ROE), and investment yield, among others.

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