Category Archives: Market Conditions

Demand For Commercial Insurance Up Slightly

Demand for commercial insurance continued to follow a slight upward trend in the first three months of 2017, according to the latest Council of Insurance Agents & Brokers’ Commercial P/C Market Survey.

A large number of brokers reported an increase in demand for cyber coverage as clients became more familiar with the product and more interested in purchasing stand-alone policies.

The majority of brokers, 68.5 percent, reported that demand for commercial insurance products stayed the same in the first quarter of 2017, compared to the fourth quarter of 2016.

Nearly 30 percent of broker responses saw an increase in demand, while only 2.2 percent saw a decrease.

As for pricing, the soft market continued in Q1 2017, with the average rate decline across all commercial P/C accounts at 2.5 percent, compared to 3.3 percent in Q4 2016.

This is the ninth straight quarter that commercial rates have declined across small, medium and large accounts, The Council said.

Additional I.I.I. facts and statistics on the commercial lines insurance market are available here.

Stable And Buyer-Friendly Commercial Insurance Marketplace

As hundreds of risk professionals gather in Philadelphia, the birthplace of insurance, for the annual RIMS (Risk and Insurance Management Society) conference, here’s the latest take on corporate risk costs:

  • Businesses saw a 5 percent decline in the total cost of risk (TCOR) in 2016—the third year in a row that corporates have benefited from lower prices, according to the latest RIMS benchmark survey. The study defines TCOR as the cost of insurance, plus the costs of the losses that are retained and the administrative costs of the risk management department. CFO.com has more on the findings.
  • The commercial insurance marketplace remains buyer-friendly and stable for North American insurance buyers, even as it braces for potential changes from Washington D.C. That’s the outlook from Willis Towers Watson in its 2017 Marketplace Realities report which points to the fluidity of capital as a key driver of current market conditions. The report’s line-by-line commercial insurance price predictions for the remainder of 2017 show a mix of increases, decreases and flat rates, as follows:

 

Commercial Insurance Prices Moving On Up

Insurers are moving away from the rate cuts of 2016, according to online insurance exchange MarketScout’s take on the first quarter 2017 rate environment.

For the first time in 20 months, the composite rate index for commercial accounts in the United States measured a rate increase at plus 1 percent, MarketScout said.

Richard Kerr, CEO of MarketScout:

“The plus 1 percent composite rate index was driven by larger rate increases in commercial auto, transportation, professional and D&O rates. We also recorded small rate increases in the majority of coverage and industry classifications.”

Rates for business interruption, inland marine, workers’ compensation, crime, and surety coverages held steady in the first quarter. Rates for all other coverages either moderated or increased.

By industry class, every industry experienced a move toward higher rates in the first quarter. Transportation had the largest rate increase at plus 5 percent, MarketScout reported.

Small accounts (up to $25,000) were assessed a 1 percent rate increase in the first quarter of 2017. Medium accounts ($25,001 – $250,000) were flat while both large ($250,001 – $1 million) and jumbo (over $1 million) accounts enjoyed rate decreases of minus 1 percent and minus 2 percent respectively.

Check out Insurance Information Institute facts and statistics on the commercial lines insurance market here.

Eye On Commercial Insurance Prices

Two broker surveys give insight on where U.S. commercial insurance prices are at.

Willis Towers Watson’s most recent Commercial Lines Pricing Survey (CLIPS) shows commercial insurance prices were again nearly flat during the fourth quarter of 2016:

As you can see above, price changes reported by carriers were less than 1 percent for the fifth consecutive quarter, following a moderating trend in price increases that began in the first quarter of 2013.

The outlier in the results? Commercial auto, where meaningful price increases continue to be reported. Price changes for most other lines fell in the low single digits, according to the CLIPS survey.

Meanwhile, the Marsh Global Insurance Market Index Q4 2016 found that U.S. composite insurance rates were down 3 percent in the fourth quarter of 2016, in line with the global rate:

Marsh said the continuing decline in U.S. commercial insurance prices was driven largely by decreases in property insurance pricing.

However, U.S. cyber liability rates continued to increase for the sixth consecutive quarter, albeit at a moderating rate, Marsh noted.

Cyber price increases don’t appear to be deterring businesses from buying this essential coverage.

The number of Marsh clients purchasing cyber insurance increased by 25 percent from 2015 to 2016 across all industries, with the greatest overall uptake in healthcare, communications, media and technology.

See more on the importance of cyber insurance to businesses in this Insurance Information Institute (I.I.I.) white paper.

Significant trends shaping the property/casualty insurance business are discussed in this I.I.I. presentation.

Looking Ahead: Commercial Insurance Pricing

Where are U.S. commercial insurance rates headed in the coming year?

Latest analysis from online insurance exchange MarketScout gives some insight.

This from Richard Kerr, CEO MarketScout:

“We expect more moderate rate reductions for the coming year for all but a few lines of business. If interest rates increase, rate reductions could accelerate.” 

December closed out the year at a composite rate reduction of 1 percent, according to MarketScout.

Employment practices liability insurance and crime were the only coverages with rate increases in December, with increases of 1 to 2 percent.

Workers’ compensation rates decreased from down 1 percent to down 2 percent in December. Commercial property rate decreases moderated from down 3 percent to down 2 percent.

The soft market is now 16 months old, but seems longer because the composite rate in 2015 was flat or plus 1 percent for the first eight months before dipping into negative territory.

Kerr noted that generally the soft or hard market cycles last at least three years.

Most industries are cyclical to some extent and the Insurance Information Institute offers further explanation of the property/casualty insurance market cycle here.

Commercial Insurance Rate Declines Continue

The soft market may be limited in length and severity, though that would be surprising, according to the latest analysis of commercial insurance pricing from online insurance exchange MarketScout.

The comments came as MarketScout reported that the composite rate for U.S. commercial property/casualty insurance declined by 2 percent in April, compared to a 3 percent decline in March and minus 4 percent in January and February 2016.

Richard Kerr, CEO of MarketScout observed:

“It seems we may have a reversal of sentiment. Rates are moderating. We are only seven months into a soft market that has so far yielded a maximum composite rate decrease of minus 4 percent.”

Kerr also noted:

“A limited soft market would be a bit surprising noting the current ample market capacity; however, more sophisticated underwriting tools seem to be limiting market swings.”

Rates changed in most coverage classifications with property, business interruption, BOP, inland marine, workers’ compensation, general liability, and fiduciary all moderating by 1 percent as compared to March.

Umbrella, auto, D&O, EPLI, crime, professional and surety were unchanged, according to MarketScout.

By account size, rates for small accounts (under $25,000) were down 1 percent from March to April. All other account sizes were down 2 percent in April 2016, compared to minus 4 percent in March 2016.

By coverage classification, transportation accounts adjusted more than any other industry classification from minus 4 percent in March 2016 to minus 2 percent in April 2016. Manufacturing, habitational, public entity and energy accounts all moderated 1 percent in April, while contracting and service accounts remained unchanged.

Here’s the visual by coverage classification:

Screen Shot 2016-05-11 at 10.43.28 AM

Check out this post over at Artemis blog for more on why the moderation in commercial insurance rates is unlikely to persist.

The Insurance Information Institute has further information with financial results and commentary on the p/c insurance industry here.

P/C Rates: Trending Down, But Not As Steeply

Broker Willis Towers Watson has updated its commercial insurance rate predictions for 2016, and says that price declines are slowing.

A complex commercial insurance marketplace—marked by increased underwriting scrutiny and potential challenges stemming from the changing carrier landscape—is raising the likelihood that companies will experience some price increases in various lines.

Back in October 2015, Willis said 10 lines of insurance could expect decreases and just five lines of insurance could expect increases in 2016.

Now the updated outlook for 2016 is that nine lines of insurance are expecting decreases and eight lines of insurance—auto, cyber, employee benefits, employment practices liability, errors & omissions, fidelity, kidnap & ransom, and trade credit— are expecting increases.

And for lines where it anticipated the largest price hikes—cyber and errors & omissions—those price hikes are accelerating.

With hurricane season approaching, it’s worth noting that property remains among those lines expecting a decrease, but average rate reductions are slowing down.

Non-CAT accounts have enjoyed rate reductions for a longer period and carriers cannot afford to cut rates much further, Willis Towers Watson notes.

For cyber renewals, primary premium increases are 5 percent to 15 percent for most buyers and 15 percent to 30 percent for POS retailers and large health care companies with no losses—with additional increases on excess layers.

Willis Towers Watson notes that excess cyber losses have caused a few markets to stop writing large accounts and others to increase their premiums significantly in upper layers of $75+ million placements.

Despite the reduction in capacity by some carriers, available limits in the marketplace are approximately $350 million to $400 million.

Capital markets are also reviewing cyber to determine if they can provide additional relief.

Meanwhile, insurers are focused on employee training, handling of sensitive data, holistic security practices for outsourced data infrastructure, and internal reporting structure, according to Willis Towers Watson.

Commercial Insurance Barometer Shows Competitive Market

Commercial property/casualty insurance rates in the United States continued to register a decline  in February, but showed little movement across  sectors, according to online insurance exchange MarketScout.

The composite rate remains at minus 4 percent.

Richard Kerr, CEO of MarketScout noted that traditionally February has always been a slow insurance month, so the lack of activity in rates is not surprising.

By coverage classification, commercial property saw the largest decrease at  5 percent, while business interruption, inland marine and commercial auto were all priced more competitively in February as compared to January. The rates for other coverages remained steady.

Large and jumbo accounts were also down more in February, with large ($250,001 to $1 million) down from minus 4 percent in January 2016, to minus 5 percent in February 2016. Jumbo accounts (over $1 million), declined from minus 3 percent to minus 4 percent in the same period. All other account sizes matched the same composite rate from the prior month.

By industry classification, manufacturing had a significant rate decrease from minus 2 percent in January to minus 5 percent in February. Habitational was down another 1 percent in February for a total of minus 6 percent. All other industry rates remained the same as in January, MarketScout said.

Here’s the visual on the average P/C rate changes for 2016 compared to a year ago:

AverageP/CRateIncrease2016

AverageP/CRateIncrease2015

 

Commercial Insurance Market: Generally Favorable For Buyers

Ample capacity and continued competition are expected to continue to put near term downward pressure on insurance rates in major classes of commercial property/casualty business, according to Marsh.

However, industry developments including recent earnings announcements, senior management changes and re-underwriting at several companies bear watching, said Marsh in its just-released U.S. Insurance Market Report.

Marsh’s analysis put average rate decreases in the fourth quarter of 2015 at between 5 percent and 10 percent for non-catastrophe exposed risks and by between 5 percent and 15 percent for moderately catastrophe-exposed risks.

Likewise, U.S. public company directors and officers (D&O) insurance rates were on average flat to down 10 percent in the fourth quarter, while U.S. commercial general liability rates on average renewed at between 10 percent rate decreases and 5 percent increases.

Amid the rate decreases across most classes of business, cyber insurance bucked the trend.

Typical cyber rate increases in the first half of 2015 were 10 percent to 15 percent over the prior year.

However, the retail and healthcare sectors, which have seen some of the costliest data breach events, saw increases ranging from 45 percent to 55 percent and 15 percent to 25 percent, respectively.

Marsh noted that demand for cyber insurance rose in 2015–a trend expected to continue in 2016.

Despite the overall pattern of soft pricing, amid ample capacity, competition and relatively low catastrophe losses, Robert Bentley, president of Marsh’s U.S. and Canada division warned that now is not the time to be complacent:

Organizations need to stay abreast of the ever-changing marketplace and risk landscape, where new and emerging risks can quickly escalate if not properly managed.”

More information on the cyber insurance market can be found in the Insurance Information Institute  white paper Cyber Risks: Threat and Opportunities.

Latest on Commercial P/C Insurance Pricing in 2016

Two separate market surveys point to a continuing decline in commercial property/casualty insurance rates.

Online insurance exchange MarketScout reported that the composite rate for p/c  business placed in the United States declined by 4 percent in January 2016.

Richard Kerr, CEO of MarketScout, noted that commercial property rates dropped from minus 2 percent in December 2015 to minus 5 percent in January 2016.

Commercial property insurers are getting ready to scratch each other’s eyes out as they fight for market share. We see nothing to prevent commercial property rates from dropping further.”

Business interruption, BOPs, professional liability and D&O coverages were also more competitively priced in January 2016 versus December 2015, MarketScout said.

By account size, large and jumbo accounts (over $250,001) were assessed rates slightly higher in January 2016 than in the prior month–bucking the usual trend, while rates for small and medium sized accounts (all under $250,000) were more competitive.

Meanwhile, the Council of Insurance Agents & Brokers’ (The Council) fourth quarter Commercial P/C Market Index Survey showed that 2015 closed as it began–with continued decreases in commercial p/c rates.

All size accounts experienced decreases in the fourth quarter of 2015, consistent with the downward trend seen in the prior three quarters. Large accounts saw the biggest decrease at 3.7 percent, followed by medium-sized accounts at 3 percent, and small accounts at 1.5 percent, The Council said.

By line, the largest decreases were seen in commercial property, down 3.5 percent, and general liability, down 3.4 percent. Umbrella policy rates declined an average of 2.8 percent while workers compensation rates were down an average of 2.6 percent.

Ken A. Crerar, president/CEO of The Council noted:

This soft market presents both challenges and opportunities for brokers. Lower rates meant less revenue but as the economy improved, policyholders were seeking increased limits and additional lines of coverage. This gave our members a chance to be creative and provide added value to their clients beyond just negotiating lower rates.”

The Council will continue to monitor how trends and advancements like industry consolidation, the burgeoning cyber insurance market and the use of technology in modeling and underwriting impact rates and capacity in the insurance market in 2016.

Insurance Information Institute  commentary on the p/c industry financial results can be found here.