Second Quarter Sees 1% rise in Commercial Lines Rates

Closer attention to underwriting and losses has led to premium increases averaging 1% in the second quarter of 2017, continuing an upward trend this year. The transportation sector, most notably auto-related exposures, is seeing the highest increases, up to 4%, according to a report released today by MarketScout.

“We now have two consecutive quarters of composite rate premium increases. Insurers are adjusting pricing as they should, based upon losses incurred, expense loads and targeted returns on equity,” Richard Kerr, CEO and Founder of MarketScout said in a statement.

By account size, organizations smaller to medium-size saw the highest premium increases. Small accounts (under $25,000 premium) increased from up 1% to up 2%, medium accounts ($25,001 – $250,000) went from flat to plus 1%, large accounts ($250,001 – $1 million) were unchanged and jumbo accounts (more than $1 million) were down 1% compared to a drop of 2% the prior quarter.
By coverage class, commercial property and inland marine adjusted from down 1% in the first quarter, to up 1% in the second quarter. Commercial auto rates rose from up 3% to up 4%. EPLI also went from up 1% to up 2%. Fiduciary adjusted downward to flat or no increase compared to up 1% in the prior quarter. All other coverage classifications were unchanged from the previous quarter, according to the report.
By industry class, public entity rates moderated from up 1% to flat. Transportation risks experienced slightly lower rate increases with second quarter rates up 4% compared to 5% first quarter.

Protecting Key Executives in Global Hot Spots

The recent suicide bombing in Istanbul and the Paris bombing last November killed and injured innocent bystanders and sent shockwaves around the globe. Such attacks also cause organizations to question international travel out of fear of putting their key executives and employees in harm’s travel

As the risk profile changes in some locations that were once considered safe, it is critical to reassess and more deeply examine company programs to protect business travelers abroad.

First of all, for companies and their insurance advisors, there is no substitute for great advance planning. If a company is contemplating overseas travel and can establish well in advance that there exists a need for key person insurance, the coverage is easier to obtain and more cost effective. The reality is that the heightened awareness around a dangerous trip often results in an insurance need being developed or uncovered with little notice. When this need arises, the underwriting process migrates from the traditional life and disability insurance market to the playing field of high limit or specialized risk underwriters.

In one notable example, a large U.S. company recently made a significant investment in a defense contractor. Shortly after the investment closed, the company named a new chief executive officer and sought to acquire $50,000,000 of key person life and disability insurance.

As of the day of the request, their insurance advisor had eight business days to secure the insurance before the CEO departed for the Middle East, with stops in such international hot spots as Iraq and Afghanistan. Because of the abbreviated time frame, traditional life and disability insurance was not an option. The advisor needed to turn to a specialty underwriter that deals with exceptionally large and complex human capital risks.

Armed with the CEO’s itinerary (see below) and details of the executive’s compensation and equity incentive agreement, the advisor had enough information to present the submission to the underwriters. Within 72 hours, a policy was issued that covered the private equity firm’s loss of the CEO directly due to an accidental death or disability, as well as a result of acts of war or terrorism.

Few domestic life and disability carriers possess the ability to underwrite large risks when there is high-risk exposure in the world’s hot zones. Instead, companies and their brokers must work with large international insurers that are willing to deploy meaningful capacity.

The easiest way for advisors to access these markets is through an experienced U.S.-based correspondent who is skilled at designing and underwriting coverage in these volatile locations. Local correspondents or managing general underwriters also serve to guide brokers through the regulatory complexities that go along with underwriting risks through surplus lines carriers—something most life and health producers have little experience with.

The best brokers are masters at uncovering details from their clients, documenting them and communicating them effectively to underwriters. A well-written cover memo will often be the basis for offering coverage and can be the primary source for pricing consideration. A complete itinerary coupled with security details are the underwriter’s key points of interest, so make sure the information is gathered and communicated as early as possible.

Frequently, specific plans will be classified when working with international defense contractors, but one way or the other, the basic information must be made available. When underwriting coverage in highly hostile areas, rates can vary based on multiple factors, such as security arrangements, travel vendors, length of stay and, in highly hostile areas, rates even vary down to specific latitude and longitude coordinates, often within a single city or locale.

No detail is too small for spelling out the need for the insurance and financial justification, including the purpose of the trip and the client’s specific duties and objectives. This is the information that sets apart a submission and makes it more likely for an underwriter to go out on a limb with preferential pricing and terms.

Keep in mind, when underwriting risks in highly volatile areas—with the propensity for rapid deterioration—it may not be possible to negotiate coverage or a rate guarantee for the entire duration of the client’s journey. It is essential to keep in mind that the best underwriting offers go to advisors who deliver the most detailed and accurate information.

Example of a CEO’s itinerary:

Day 1 – Depart Commercial Air for Dubai

Day 3 – Arrive in Baghdad, Iraq – Transport to Camp Butler

Day 4 – Depart Baghdad and arrive in Dubai

Day 5 – Depart Dubai arrive Kabul, Afghanistan – Transport to Camp Gibson

Day 6 – Fly to Kandahar, Afghanistan

Day 7 – Depart Kandahar, Afghanistan – fly to Abu Dhabi

Day 12 – Depart Abu Dhabi for U.S.

It is important that we don’t allow acts of terrorism to knock the wheels off our economy. Business travel and face-to-face meetings are key elements in making us what we are, so it’s imperative that we mitigate the associated risk whenever possible.

Hank Greenberg Shares Concerns for Insurance Industry at RIMS Canada Conference

Hank Greenberg RIMS canada

QUEBEC CITY, CANADA—Currently on the mend from Legionnaires’ disease, Maurice “Hank” Greenberg appeared via live video stream to deliver the keynote address to the 2015 RIMS Canada Conference. The chairman and CEO of the Starr Companies and former chairman and CEO of AIG gave a frank and diverse address highlighting a number of concerns about potential impacts to the insurance industry due to the current climate.

“We’re living in a very troubled time on a global basis,” he said, emphasizing geopolitical instability. While such geopolitical uncertainty demonstrates the need for political insurance, other widespread conditions do not necessarily have such favorable implications for the industry.

“Clearly commercial insurance rates are under pressure,” he said. “The absence of catastrophes has masked that rates have gone down so much, and that has allowed some companies to survive.”

He also noted that investment income is suffering because of interest rates, and expressed concern that many companies are turning to long-tail reserves for income. What’s more, he said, accident year results for many companies are turning negative, and many are finding their reserves inadequate, particularly as expense ratios are frequently increasing rather than remaining steady. Companies that aren’t very efficient will find it very hard to be competitive and show returns this year, he cautioned.

Further examining the industry, Greenberg criticized insurers for “not doing a very good job of training underwriters,” seeing a stark comparison to the rigorous, diverse experience previously customary in the London market, for example.

“It takes years of experience to train an underwriter—they are not just qualified because of a college degree,” he said. “It takes years of work and a lot of common sense to develop the wisdom to know what can be underwritten and at what price.”

When it comes to this talent concern, he noted, it is not a question of which companies are doing better, but a problem across the board. “I don’t think we have the discipline, as an industry, to do the job properly,” Greenberg said.

Greenberg also shared some of his political opinions, both international and domestic. Of China, the US-ASEAN Business Council chairman emeritus and vice chairman of the Council on Foreign Relations said he does not share the widespread dubious feelings on China. “They’ve had some missteps. What country hasn’t?” he said.

He spent some of his time addressing the burgeoning 2016 U.S. election. Greenberg noted Donald Trump’s campaign as part of what he views as growing dissatisfaction – and perhaps inadequacy – of the current political system. “People are fed up with the political system as it currently exists. Why else would somebody like Trump, who has no experience but is speaking about things people care about be doing so well?” he said.

He also told the crowd that Jeb Bush would personally be visiting him Wednesday. Greenberg does not yet endorse any particular candidate, however, and expressed some concern about the Republican party’s position amid acute socioeconomic changes and resulting political demands nationwide.

“You have to give people the opportunity to succeed—that’s the American Dream. That’s why people came here,” he said. “If we’re going to deny that opportunity, the Republican party will have to change its name.”

Soft Market Conditions Present Biggest Challenge for Reinsurance Industry, Survey Finds

Ongoing soft market conditions are the most widely-cited challenge facing the global reinsurance industry in 2015, according to a global study of reinsurance professionals by insurance software company Xuber. For its Global Reinsurance Survey, the company spoke with senior professionals including insurers, reinsurers, brokers, industry organizations, lawyers, insurance-linked securities (ILS) investment managers, analytics firms and modelers, across the U.K., U.S., Bermuda, Canada, Channel Islands, Cayman Islands, Germany and Switzerland about the top concerns and biggest opportunities facing the reinsurance industry today. Of those polled, 81% listed soft market conditions among their top five concerns, followed by competition from third party capital (66%), and mergers and acquisitions (M&A) (66%).

The top five challenges cited were:

Xuber Global Reinsurance Survey challenges

Experts within the field do see plenty of growth opportunities as well. Indeed, some of this potential is thanks to the soft market. According to the report, “Another opportunity in the soft market identified by 59% of executives was to create niche opportunities that showcase their expertise. In a squeezed market, opportunities can open up for enterprising businesses that can identify today’s emerging risks and those of tomorrow and create products that are tailored for them. This can be linked to using Big Data better (51%) and diversifying the business portfolio (42%).”

The top five business opportunities cited were:

Xuber Global Reinsurance Survey opportunities

“This survey unearthed a range of new business opportunities that can provide the competitive edge needed to survive and prosper in the current environment,” said Chris Baker, executive director at Xuber. “With margins tight and prices falling, reinsurers are under great pressure to ensure their processes are as efficient as possible. Surviving and prospering in the soft market will require companies to operate at optimal efficiency, and their IT systems will be central to this. Only the savviest of reinsurers who recognize that technology can be the catalyst for change will emerge unscathed.”

Other key insights from the study include:

Xuber Global Reinsurance Survey