Surviving a Hard Insurance Market

by Kurt Murray, Assurance Agency

The insurance marketplace is recurrent in nature. When the market is soft, insurance carriers are competing for business; therefore, rates are lower, underwriting criteria may be more flexible, and coverages are broadened. When the market is hard, there’s a reduced supply of insurance causing coverages to be narrowed and rates to be generally increased.

What Contributes to a Hard Market:

  1. Adverse loss trends/catastrophic losses – both the frequency and severity of claims is on the rise. Specific to the staffing industry, Auto Liability and Employment Practices Liability have been loss leaders and carriers are not collecting enough premium to cover the cost of claims. Litigation trends and increased medical costs have also led to higher payouts.
  2. Decreased carrier capacity – as carriers take on poor loss experience, they respond by restricting the classes of business and lines of coverage they want to insure.
  3. Decrease in carrier investment returns – typically the bulk of carriers’ profits are from investment returns even if they have an unprofitable underwriting year. Reduced returns are causing carriers to restrict their underwriting appetite.
  4. Lack of Reinsurance – as reinsurance becomes more costly or difficult to obtain, underlying carriers will increase rates as they are forced to take on more of the primary exposure or they will exit classes of business entirely.

What to Expect in a Hard Market:

  1. Premium increases/lack of affordable coverage
  2. Increased scrutiny on submissions – requests for additional applications, historical data, detail on losses, controls, and exposures
  3. Restrictions in coverage – via policy forms or requirements for increased retentions
  4. Unavailability of higher limits or coverage enhancements
  5. Conditional or non-renewal notices
  6. The need to change carriers, work with more carriers, or obtain coverage through the excess/surplus lines marketplace

How to Survive a Hard Market:

  • Stay ahead of the renewal process and communicate early with your broker to identify how you will be impacted.
  • Be prepared to provide much more detail at the time of renewal.
  • With shrinking capacity, carriers will be decreasing the number of brokers and wholesalers they work with. Be sure to partner with a broker with strong carrier relationships and knowledge of your industry.
  • Work with your broker to review your policies and procedures to understand where improvements can be made to secure more favorable quotes or reduce your liability to uninsured losses where coverage restrictions are imposed.

Kurt Murray is a Principal at Assurance with a focus in the staffing industry. With over twenty years of experience, his primary client responsibility is to provide cost-effective solutions and develop insurance programs that are individualized to a company’s specific needs. He deems it necessary to fully understand a client and their specific needs to properly develop their risk management program. Kurt graduated from Northern Illinois University with a degree in Finance. He has presented at numerous staffing industry events and conferences, including TempNet, American Staffing Association, TRICOM, and Staffing Services Association of Illinois.

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