March 15, 2022
How to Survive the Insurance “Hard Market”
Several extraordinary events have taken place in the past few years that will influence the role of insurance for many years to come.
Boston-based Risk Strategies Co. has identified these events in their latest “State of the Market Report” They are:
- The COVID-19 global pandemic, impacting businesses across every sector.
- The rise in frequency and severity of natural catastrophes, “challenging long-hold underwriting models, methodology, pricing and insurance capacity.”
- Skyrocketing ransomware attacks, which have increased claims, driven sharp price increases, and reduced underwriting capacity across all lines of insurance.
- The growing influence of environmental, social and governance issues in consumer and shareholder class action suits, nuclear verdicts and supply chain problems.
- As a result of these developments, according to the report, business insurance buyers can look forward to premium increases, hard markets and more stringent underwriting.
Premium increases and Hard Markets
Rates increased throughout 2021, most notably in cyber, property, excess liability, director & officers and auto insurance. Property rates increased 25 percent and more for businesses in catastrophic areas or with poor loss histories. The range of cyber insurance increases was 30-300 percent, averaging 50 percent or more.
More Stringent Underwriting
“With the surge in frequency and severity of catastrophes, and other high risk market conditions, carriers have scrutinized the adequacy of premium levels and the level or risk they are willing to take.” This has resulted in tighter underwriting and less willingness to write higher insurance limits. Some carriers have left the market entirely, adding further stress on pricing and reducing options even more.
The Report offers specific recommendations for several industries and types of exposures, though most recommendations apply broadly to all of them. Some areas specifically mentioned include:
Firms should collaborate with their brokers and others to start the underwriting and renewal process early. Collaborating with a broker that understands your company’s specific industry, and takes an analytical approach, will ensure that your business is matched with insurance companies that fit you best in terms of price, service and coverage.
Replacement costs and values for buildings, machinery, equipment and personal property have been increasing rapidly lately. The average cost of completed buildings in the U.S. has gone up by approximately 15-19 percent from a year ago. Businesses should expect insurers to ask for updated information on these valuations. Work closely with your broker to provide information on:
- Type of construction and age of buildings
- Types and ages of roofs and reroofing
- Square footages and type of building operations
- Fire protection and other property loss prevention equipment
- Catastrophic exposures and modeling results for earthquake, flood, tornado, convective storms, storm surge, wildfire and terrorism.
The state of the cyber insurance marketing is more consultative than ever before due to the unprecedented risks of the last several years. As a consequence, it’s important to use analytical tools to assess deficiencies to prevent and/or reduce the cost and complexity of an incident.
Also, the underwriting process has become more protracted and comprehensive in recent years. Business should work in partnership with brokers and trusted vendor partners to improve risk management controls in advance of cyber renewals. This is essential for reducing risk and the cost of insurance.
Cyber and Professional Liability
As with cyber liability, professionals also need to emphasize quality assurance, and utilize quality control and risk management protocols. Prepare renewal information early and focus on appropriate insurance companies. Some of the basic controls insurance companies are looking for include:
- Multi-factor authentication
- Endpoint detection monitoring and response
- Secure and regular backups
- Security awareness training
- Password access management tool.
In the coming years, all businesses should expect greater underwriting scrutiny, do their due diligence and be prepared to present insurers with more details and data than previously required. In many situations, it has become critical to begin the underwriting process earlier — at least 90 days in advance to market a risk. Please call us if you have questions about your upcoming renewals.