After a tough year, the honchos from Big Blue shared some information that might be of interest to you ankle-grabbers:

“Allstate's Property-Liability business continued to produce strong underlying profitability. For the year ended December 31, 2008, our property-liability underlying combined ratio was 86.8%, which was within the updated outlook range provided of 86.0% to 88.0% and better than our initial estimate. This ratio benefited from favorable frequency (the number of claims per 100 policies) and only moderate severity (the average cost per claim paid).”

Or as Elvis would say, “Thank you, Thank you very much!”

So how about 2009? What can you dolts expect? Surely Big Blue will be appreciative, right?

Well, let’s see:

"We expect 2009 to challenge businesses and consumers alike," (Thomas) Wilson said. "As people focus more on value, we're reaching out with a variety of initiatives to help consumers make the best use of their insurance and investment dollars. We are taking the actions necessary to protect Allstate's financial strength, improve customer loyalty and introduce new products and services."

(with) Property-Liability

-- Continued emphasis on preserving auto insurance margins by providing customer-focused products and services
-- Reducing homeowners exposure to catastrophe losses
-- Short-term growth will be limited reflecting a transition to a value-based strategy in the competitive environment and reductions of catastrophe exposure
-- Property-Liability combined ratio, excluding the effects of catastrophes and prior year reserve reestimates, to be between 87.0% and 89.0% for the full year of 2009

Let’s see, they ended 2008 at 86.8% and expect to end 2009 somewhere around 87% to 89%. So, for 2009 Big Blue is forecasting a .2 (that’s POINT 2) to 2.5% increase in its combined ratio. Hmmmm, premiums aren’t expected to rise much, med costs are expected to rise about 4%, cats aren’t factored in and even assuming their expenses don’t rise at all, what does that leave for ankle-grabbers? Gomer, Arie, Darrell, R&D Mikey, Jeannie, Barry, Nickie…anybody (except Math Wiz Lippy)?

And the best part, Big Blue has laid down the gauntlet for all its competitors.

Ain’t life grand?

"Now I am become Death, the destroyer of worlds." -J. Robert Oppenheimer, 1945