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Karl Newman, President 
Darrin Sanger, Communications Director    
NW Insurance Council    
Phone: (206) 624-3330
Fax: (206) 624-1975 Follow at Follow at

Insurance good for financial security, great for Washington's economy

SEATTLE - Insurance provides financial security for millions of Washington residents and makes a major contribution to the economy across the Northwest. At the most fundamental level, insurance is the foundation for economic interaction and nearly all commerce.

New data released by the American Insurance Association shows the insurance industry in Washington is a key part of the state's strong economy.

"Insurance makes it possible to buy a car or a home, start a small business and build communities, said Karl Newman, president, NW Insurance Council. "Insurance also provides quality employment opportunities to thousands of Washingtonians."

Among businesses, insurance companies are the second highest contributor to the Washington State General Fund. The insurance industry contributed more than $5.2 billion to the Washington State gross state product (GSP) in 2007, accounting for two percent of the state GSP.

Insurance companies headquartered both here and in other states, employed 50,727 Washington residents in 2007 and brought more than $3.2 billion in payroll income into state and local economies, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

In 2008, insurers paid more than $415 million in premium taxes to Washington State government, including primary funding for the State Fire Marshal's Office.

"Insurers help fuel Washington's economy," said Newman. "Insurance companies doing business in Washington help make state and local projects a reality by purchasing a significant number of municipal bonds."

Insurer premium taxes and bond investments directly finance construction and maintenance of critical public services such as roads and bridges, schools and affordable housing.

Property & Casualty (P&C) insurers purchased $14.6 billion in Washington municipal bonds in 2005. That equals 31percent of outstanding government debt throughout the state. Washington was fifth among all states in municipal bond investments by P&C insurers, despite ranking only 18th in the nation in total P&C premium volume.

Only Texas, California, New York, and Illinois ranked higher than Washington. In fact, Washington led all 50 states in the ratio of municipal bond investments to direct written premiums, with P&C insurers investing 1.6 times more in municipal bonds than they collected in premiums in the state ($13.7 billion to $8.6 billion respectively for 2005, according to A.M. Best data).

Property/casualty insurance companies doing business in Washington totaled $9.1 billion in direct premiums written. In addition, life/health insurers totaled nearly $10.7 billion (including life insurance, annuities, accident and health insurance, deposit type funds and other considerations).

"Perhaps most importantly, insurance companies are there when policyholders need them most - helping Northwest residents recover from accidents, illnesses and other personal and commercial insured losses," Newman said.

In 2008, P&C insurers paid $5.0 billion to Washington residents and businesses, including $2.2 billion for auto losses, $1.9 billion for commercial losses and more than $724 million for homeowners' claims. Life insurance claims and befits payouts in Washington totaled $7.8 billion in 2008.

Insurance claim payments support local businesses, enabling them to provide jobs and pay taxes that support the local economy.

These businesses include the auto parts and repair industries, the building construction and supply industries, health care services and legal services.

For more on how insurance companies support local and state economies, check out
"A Firm Foundation: How Insurance Supports the Washington State Economy or contact NW Insurance Council at (800) 664-4941.

Sources: American Insurance Association, A.M. Best, Insurance Information Institute and U.S. Census Bureau.

NW Insurance Council is a nonprofit, public-education organization funded by member insurance companies serving Washington, Oregon and Idaho.