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Commercial insurance prices surge 19%

Prices for commercial insurance spiked 19 per cent in the second quarter, broker Marsh reported.

It was the largest year-over-year increase recorded by Marsh's Global Insurance Market Index, since it was launched in 2012 and the eleventh successive quarter of rising prices.

Directors' and officers' liability insurance rates rose by 100 per cent in Britain and 59 per cent in the United States, for public companies, Marsh said.

D&O covers company directors and executives against the cost of litigation. One of the drivers is concern that the Covid-19 pandemic will lead to widespread lawsuits against companies and insolvencies.

Risk modelling company Praedicat said that by mid-July, more than 200 claims had been filed in US courts against companies allegedly responsible for introducing and spreading Covid-19 in the United States, Reuters reported.

Mark Chudleigh, a partner at Kennedys in Bermuda and an insurance dispute specialist, said rates in the professional and D&O liability insurance market had been hardening over the past 18 or so months and he expected that to continue.

“There are several reasons for this, including as a result of several insurers pulling out of this product area altogether or reducing their exposure to professional and financial lines business,” Mr Chudleigh told The Royal Gazette.

“The sector has seen significant and sustained losses over several years, reportedly as result of inadequate pricing and overly broad policy terms, particularly for D&O insurance, a consequence of intense competition.”

Covid-19's impact would only add to the upward pressure on prices, he suggested.

“The pandemic has certainly not helped and is likely to lead to an uptick in claims against company directors as more and more companies are forced into bankruptcy, as well as eating up insurer capital as result of business interruption and other claims activity,” Mr Chudleigh said.

“The outcome will be widespread premium increases and tightening of conditions for professional firms and company directors looking for cover, with insureds with poor claims histories likely to experience the sharpest increases.

“From what I hear, a number of professional service providers in Bermuda — including law firms — are being asked to pay significantly more for professional indemnity cover on their renewals.”

Property insurance prices also climbed sharply higher, Marsh's data show.

“Property pricing in the US increased 22 per cent in the second quarter, with many accounts experiencing greater increases,” Marsh stated.

“Flow into both the London and Bermuda markets was noticeably higher than in prior quarters as clients sought more options.”

It was the eleventh successive quarter of US property insurance increases, with the last five quarters seeing double-digit rises. Three years of heavy storm and wildfire losses have driven the market higher.

US casualty insurance pricing rose 8 per cent, as the excess liability market saw a 21 per cent increase, while auto insurance pricing jumped 10 per cent. Casualty lines had been trending lower for several years, before the past five quarters of year-over-year increases.

US employment practices liability insurance prices rose 8 per cent, “with increases tied to Covid-19-related issues”, Marsh said, while cyber insurance pricing rose 7 per cent.

Marsh's report highlights that the insurance price increases are both broad-based and accelerating upwards.

Soaring rates: a graphic showing Marsh's global insurance composite pricing change tracking (Source: Marsh Global Analytics)

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Published August 11, 2020 at 9:00 am (Updated August 10, 2020 at 10:29 pm)

Commercial insurance prices surge 19%

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