President at The Hartford Financial Services Group
Thanks, Beth, and good morning, everyone. The Hartford's Property & Casualty strong first quarter results are evidence of the substantial progress achieved to expand product breadth, advance technology and data science, deepen our distribution footprint and differentiate the customer experience. These accomplishments are powered by our skilled talent base, positioning us well for profitable growth. Starting with Commercial Lines. I'm pleased with the underwriting performance across product lines and the improving expense leverage. Written premium growth was strong in the quarter, sustaining the top line momentum achieved last year. With the acceleration of growth during 2021, the year-over-year compares will get more challenging in subsequent quarters, but we're confident there is upside to our initial target of 4% to 5%. Starting with pricing. In January, we shared with you our 2022 Commercial Lines guidance, which contemplated moderated renewal pricing, and first quarter was largely in line with those expectations. Commercial written pricing, excluding workers' compensation, was 7.1%, moderating about one point from the fourth quarter, but continuing to exceed loss cost trends across most products. This moderation was largely experienced in Middle Market and Global Specialty. Workers' compensation pricing declined slightly from the fourth quarter as expected. The dynamic of higher average wages partially offset by negative filed rates will likely persist throughout 2022. New written premium in Small Commercial was up 6%, driven by Spectrum, and retention improved two points from last year.
Our number one-rated digital customer experience, outstanding product capabilities and rising no-touch bindability levels are driving business to The Hartford as customers continue to embrace our consistent pricing and underwriting approach, leading to higher sales and excellent retention. Middle Market pricing, excluding workers' compensation, was 6.5%, a very solid start to the year. Retention was up four points from the first quarter of 2021, while new business premium was essentially flat. Robust exposure growth also contributed to our quarterly top line increase of 10%. Pricing remained strong in Global Specialty at 8.3%, with U.S. wholesale pricing just over 9%. Premium retention was steady, and growth from our reinsurance business was significant. We continue to be pleased with our growing momentum, deeper product suite and improved underwriting execution. Turning to loss costs. Our 2022 guidance also reflected our disciplined and long-term consistent approach to loss trend selection, including the expected impact of supply chain, inflationary pressures in our auto and property books along with social and economic headwinds in other lines. Overall loss trends and loss ratios for the quarter were in line, with a few puts and takes. In summary, for commercial, I'm very pleased with the continued excellent performance of each of our businesses, and I expect to achieve our underlying full year guidance of 86.5 to 88.5. Small Commercial delivered yet another sub-90 underlying combined ratio quarter and our best first quarter since 2014. At 91.5, Middle & Large Commercial has now achieved four straight quarters of strong underlying performance, and this quarter's result is the best first quarter in over a decade.
And Global Specialty's underwriting combined ratio -- underlying combined ratio of 88.2 is equally impressive, reflecting the recent strong pricing environment, improved underwriting execution and significant underwriting actions taken since the acquisition. As these results demonstrate, we are effectively balancing the rate and retention trade-off while maintaining disciplined underwriting and leveraging risk segmentation tools to continue driving profitable growth. Flipping over to Personal Lines. We're very pleased with the first quarter underlying combined ratio of 88.5, acknowledging the typical first quarter seasonality benefit and industry loss cost headwinds. Maintaining profitability of the legacy book has been a primary focus while developing our new product, Prevail. Consequently, over the past several years, we continued to selectively tune pricing. In Personal Lines auto, loss costs were elevated, primarily due to higher-than-expected severity, particularly in physical damage. We have not been immune to supply chain and inflation pressures. And in response, over the past several months, we have completed over 50 auto filings with an average rate increase of 6.2%. These filings were across multiple class plans and will impact approximately half of our book going forward. In addition, we continue to recalibrate Prevail pricing to reflect these elevated loss trends. We're confident our filing execution, combined with prudent rate increases taken during the past few years, will continue to position our auto book for profitable growth. In home, overall loss costs were in line with quarter one of 2021.
Non-CAT weather frequency continues to run favorable to long-term averages, while material and labor costs remain at historically high levels, putting pressure on severity. We're similarly taking pricing actions in home. All in, our current accident year home loss ratio of 47.3 is very healthy. Turning to Personal Lines production. Retention remained steady, while we generated new business growth in the quarter. Responses and conversion rates are in line with expectations. In addition, Prevail is now available in 13 states, including the launch of Florida in January and Texas in April, a couple of our larger states. We're actively managing our new business flow through an accelerated view of key metrics and enhanced analytics. To date, we're pleased with the quality of the new business we're writing. In closing, the first quarter was a very strong start to 2022 across Property & Casualty and represents mounting evidence that we have and will continue to deliver on our critical and strategic goals. Our Commercial Lines business grew at a double-digit clip with exceptional operating margins. And in Personal Lines, pricing actions are taking hold, while new business growth is emerging with increasing contributions from Prevail. The seamless integration of our product portfolio, technology and analytics, distribution and talent continue to drive our success in the marketplace. The momentum is clear. The results are strong, and our future is bright. I look forward to our next update in 90 days.
Let me now turn the call back to Susan.