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Businesses may feel additional pressure this year due to some changes in the insurance market. The insurance industry is experiencing what’s known as a hardening market, which means that premiums are going up, carriers are implementing stricter underwriting standards and have a narrower tolerance for risk.
There are a number of factors ranging from inflation, climate change and catastrophic weather events, supply chain issues and even political uncertainty that drive this. But, at the end of the day, rates are rising because claims are rising well beyond historical levels.
The net result is that some businesses may find it more difficult or more expensive to get or retain insurance. While the market trends may be outside your control, there are some factors that businesses can control to help as they seek to secure new policies or renew existing policies.
1) Proactive risk management
In a hardening market, carriers increase their scrutiny on claims and underwriting criteria. Implementing best practices to reduce your risk can only serve to help when you’re in the market for a renewal or for new policies. You can start by identifying your exposures and, to the best of your ability, minimize those that you can. Examine your safety protocols and ask yourself if you’re doing all you can to create a culture of safety throughout the organization.
In a hardening market, the burden is on the insured to prove that they are doing the right things to reduce their risk profile. It’s important to prove that you’re doing the necessary reviews and assessments to identify what, if anything, is wrong and that you’re willing to fix it.
2) Partnership and leverage
In a hard market, many carriers are assuming the rest of the market is responding in a similar fashion. Meaning if they want to raise prices, they can. The unfortune truth is that in many cases they can.
Of course, we always think it’s smart business to have a strong insurance broker working on your behalf, but in a hardening market, it’s even more critical. If we can demonstrate a client’s profitability to a carrier and/or competitive pricing from another carrier, most carriers will reluctantly bend to keep an account. The tough part in a hard market is finding that carrier. It requires cultivated relationships, hard work and honest interactions.
3) Don’t smash the “Shop it” button
The traditional approach to any problem regarding insurance renewals is to “Shop it” which generally means sending all your policies out to the market to try to get better pricing. This is almost never effective in solving the problem, but most agents employ this model because it is easy. Shopping may produce other quotes but even if the pricing is comparable or better, switching may not be the right move in the long run for a host of reasons. What is worse, this approach generates little carrier interest, takes up a lot of time and damages the organization’s reputation in the market.
Generating carrier interest in a hard market is tough, so it is important to be selective to keep carriers interested and options open. Because pricing is just one factor of the hardening market and carriers could start adjusting product terms, limits and even withdrawing from markets. Unfortunately, many companies are realizing that now only after they have already burnt out the market and have no other options.
At the end of the day, we can’t stop all market pressure, but having a solid broker partner in your corner can help mitigate some of the pressure with their knowledge of the market, the carriers and the specifics of your business and history – even in a hard market. And if your broker is telling you that there is nothing they can do in the face of the market headwinds, reach out to our team to find out what opportunities you may have to take control of the rising cost of insurance.