Jan 2022 – COMMERCIAL PROPERTY – Factors that are pushing the insurance rates higher


COMMERCIAL PROPERTY insurance rates are continuing to climb, as the segment faces a number of headwinds that have pushed claims costs to new heights.
A number of factors are affecting rates, including the frequency and severity of extreme weather claims. the cost of rebuilding, rates for commercial properties not keeping pace with claims costs, and more.
The end result has been a steady increase in property rates across the board, but businesses with operations in areas that are more susceptible to natural disasters are seeing the highest
increases.
As a business owner with commercial property, you’ve probably already seen rates increase, and you should be prepared for further rate hikes in the coming year. Here are the main drivers of these increases.

 

Mounting natural catastrophes

The number of natural catastrophes hitting the U.S. continues increasing as does the cost of those disasters, which are affecting more properties around the country.
Depending on the part of the nation a property is located it can be exposed to hurricanes, wildfires, tornadoes, hail, flooding and more.
There has also been an increase in civil unrest, which often results in property damage to businesses.
Insured property losses in the U.S. hit $74.4 billion in 2020, the second-most expensive year on record.
Also, last year set the record for the most major natural catastrophe events to hit the U.S. in a single year (22 of them).
Five of the 10 most expensive catastrophe years for the insurance industry have occurred since 2011.

 

Reconstruction costs

Reconstruction costs have skyrocketed during the past five years, averaging 5% a year, according to the Associated Builders and Contractors analysis of Bureau of Labor Statistics data.
Lumber prices rose by 73% between April 2020 and July 2021, greatly increasing rebuilding costs. On top of that, iron and steel products jumped 15% in price during the same period, and steel mill products by nearly 7%.

 

Construction labor shortage

The construction industry faces a serious labor crunch. And many firms have backlogs that stretch out more than six months.
According to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Commercial Construction Index, this shortage is leading to real-world setbacks for contractors:

• 68% of contractors say they are asking workers to do more work.
• 56% report a challenge in meeting project schedules.
• 50% of contractors are putting in higher bids.
• Over a third (35%) report turning down work due to skilled labor shortages.

 

Property rates are inadequate

Despite the fact that rates have been increasing for the last five years, insurers are still struggling to keep up with the rapidly rising cost of claims as well as the number of claims they are seeing.
Those factors have made it difficult for the industry to peg pricing at the right level, resulting in a string of losses in property insurance for most carriers.
As the industry struggles to get back to profitability, insurers will have to continue boosting rates.

 

Reinsurance rates

A portion of the property insurance rate gains can be attributed to insurance companies dealing with higher reinsurance costs.
Insurers buy reinsurance to pass on claims costs from catastrophic events, in order to reduce their overall risk.

 

The takeaway

There are some steps that businesses can take to try to affect their premiums.
If you have an older building, you can replace your mechanical, electrical and plumbing systems with newer, code-compliant variants.
Safeguard your building against location-specific hazards (for example, creating a defensible space and using fire-resistant roofing in wildfire areas and upgraded cladding in hurricane areas).
Also, electrical fires are the number-one cause of property damage, so you should consider installing fire-protection systems such as sprinklers and fire hose cabinets.

 

 


Jan 2022 – CYBER THREAT – Software Security Hole Puts Firms at Risk


THE FEDERAL government is warning that a newly discovered computer software vulnerability poses a major threat to the security of computer networks around the country.

Cyber criminals are exploiting holes in open-source code software commonly used in computer applications, websites and cloud services, which can allow them to seize control of a business’s computer network if preventative measures are not taken.

This is not a threat that businesses should take lightly as it could cripple your organization if your network is affected. If your firm is large enough to have dedicated IT staff, it should be their focus now.

 

The danger

The vulnerability lies in the Log4j software library, written in the Java programming language and created by the Apache Software Foundation. Many software vendors incorporate the Log4j software library into products such as websites, applications and cloud services to record network security and performance information.

It is likely that some of the software your business uses is built around Log4j. It runs on everything from cloud services to business enterprise software to internetconnected devices such as security cameras.

The federal Department of Homeland Security, the National Security Agency and other agencies announced on December 10 that they were “responding to active, widespread exploitation” of the vulnerability.

They warned that, if a company’s software has this vulnerability, a criminal could take over the network and cripple the business.

 

VULNERABLE BRANDS
Software developed by these firms have the security hole:

  • Microsoft

  • McAfee

  • Hewlett Packard

  • IBM

  • Red Hat

  • Dell

  • Cisco

  • Adobe

  • Salesforce

  • Oracle

 
 

What you should do

Do not take this threat lightly. As stated above, if you have dedicated IT staff, make it their primary focus right now. Major software developers have  reported that their products have the vulnerability.

You can find the full list of affected vendors and software here. Apache has published three software patches to address the problem since it became known. Software developers who use Log4j are likely applying the patches and making updates to their software available to business users.
If you receive notification about an updated version of software you are using, it should be installed promptly.

Companies that do not have their own IT department, should contact computer network consultants as soon as possible to get advice on how to proceed.

The Cybersecurity & Infrastructure Security Agency has technical information on this threat on a dedicated website. IT experts should review the site’s content, take appropriate actions as soon as possible, and monitor the site for further updates to the situation.

In the meantime, system administrators should adjust logging system settings so it does not interpret data as computer code.

Antivirus software, using a virtual private network for remote access to the system, and being alert for phishing e-mails are also important protections. Sound network data security coupled with safe internet practices can protect your business’s systems and your ability to continue operating.

 


Jan 2022 – RISK REPORT – Stay on Top of New Laws, Rules in New Year


EVERY YEAR starts with a flurry of new laws and regulations that California employers have to contend with.
And 2022 is no different as the California legislature had a busy year and the stresses of the COVID-19 pandemic resulted in more activity. The end result is another round of new laws that employers need to stay on top of so they don’t run afoul of them.
With no further ado, here are the top regulations and laws affecting California businesses.

 

1. Big change to Cal/OSHA citations

SB 606 adds two new Cal/OSHA violation categories for purposes of citations and abatement orders: “enterprisewide” and “egregious” violations. Cal/OSHA can issue an enterprise-wide citation that would require abating the violation at all locations. And the employer can face a maximum penalty of $124,709 per violation.
The law also authorizes the agency to issue a citation for an egregious violation if it believes that an employer has “willfully and egregiously” violated a standard or order. Each instance of employee exposure to that violation will be considered a separate violation and fined accordingly.

 

2. Permanent COVID standard

On Sept. 17, 2021, Cal/OSHA released a draft text for proposed permanent COVID-19 regulations, which if adopted would be subject to renewal or expiration after two years and would replace the current emergency temporary standard, which is set to expire Jan. 14, 2022.
Adoption is expected in the spring of 2022. Here’s some of what the draft standard would do:

CDPH rules – It would require that employers follow California Department of Public Health COVID-19 prevention orders.
Masks for unvaxxed staff – Unvaccinated staff must wear masks. Employers must provide masks when the CDPH requires them.
Outbreak rules – During an outbreak in the workplace, all staff would be required to wear face coverings regardless of vaccination status. Employers would need to provide respirators during major outbreaks to all employees.

 

3. COVID exposure notification

On Oct. 5, 2021, AB 654 took effect, updating requirements for what an employer must do if there is an outbreak of COVID-19 cases at its worksites.
This law somewhat curtailed earlier outbreak-reporting requirements as well as other required notifications for certain employers, and updated several provisions of the 2020 outbreak notification law, AB 685.
Here are some highlights:

Employers have one business day or 48 hours, whichever is later, to report a workplace COVID-19 outbreak to Cal/OSHA and local health authorities.
• Employers do not need to issue these notices on weekends and holidays.
• When an employer has multiple worksites, it only needs to notify employees who work at the same worksite as an employee who tests positive for  coronavirus.
• The new definition of “worksites” for the purposes of the law has been changed to exclude telework.

 

4. Expansion of the California Family Rights Act

AB 1033 expands the CFRA to allow employees to take family and medical leave to care for a parent-in-law with a serious health condition.
More importantly, it adds a requirement that mediation is a prerequisite if a small employer (one with between five and 19 workers) is the subject of a civil complaint filed by one of its employees.

 

5. Workplace settlement agreements and NDCs

A new law took effect Jan. 1 that bars employers from requiring non-disclosure clauses in settlement agreements involving workplace harassment or discrimination claims of all types. This builds on prior law that barred NDCs only in cases of sex discrimination or sexual harassment.
The new law expands that prohibition to all protected classes, such as: race, religion, disability, gender, age, and more.
One important note: While employees can’t be prohibited from discussing the facts of the case, employers can still use clauses that prohibit the disclosure of the amount paid to settle a claim.

 

6. OSHA vaccine mandate

As of this writing, Fed-OSHA’s new emergency COVID-19 standard was set to take effect on Jan. 1, with the most contentious part of the rule mandating that employees who work for employers with 100 or more staff be vaccinated or submit to weekly testing.
Unvaccinated workers would also be required to wear masks while on the job under the new rules, which have faced fierce challenges in courts.
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth District recently reversed a stay of the order as challenges to it are litigated, meaning the order can take effect as scheduled as the legal process challenging the rule proceeds.
The U.S. Supreme Court will hear expedited arguments Jan. 8 on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit’s decision to lift the Fifth Circuit’s stay.

 

7. Wage theft penalties

AB 1003, which took effect Jan. 1, added a new penalty to the California Penal Code: Grand Theft of Wages. The new law makes an employer’s intentional theft of wages (including tips) of more than $950 from one employee, or $2,350 for two or more workers, punishable as grand theft.
The law, which also applies to wage theft from independent contractors, allows for recovery of wages through a civil action.
As a result, employers (and potentially managers and business owners) would be exposed to both criminal and civil liability for wage and hour violations like failing to pay staff accurately and in a timely manner.
Review your compensation policies and practices to make sure you are in compliance with current wage and hour laws.

 

8. COVID cases may be included in X-Mods

The Workers’ Compensation Insurance Rating Bureau of California has proposed plans to start requiring COVID-19 claims to be included when calculating employers’ X-Mods.
The proposal, which would have to be approved by the state insurance commissioner, would bring to an end current rules that exclude the impact of COVID-19 workers’ compensation claims on X-Mods.
If approved, the new rule would take effect on Sept. 1, 2022. That means that employers will be held accountable for COVID19-related workers’ compensation claims and, if any employee needs treatment or dies from the coronavirus, it could result in higher premiums in the future.

 

9. Notices can be e-mailed

A new state law authorizes employers to distribute required posters and notices to employees via e-mail. SB 657 adds e-mail as a delivery option to the list of acceptable notification methods, which also includes mail.
Required posters and notices will still need to be physically posted in the workplace.

 

10. Warehouse quota rules

A new law that took effect Jan. 1 makes California the first (and only) state to regulate quotas used by warehouse employers.
While the bill was written with Amazon Inc. in mind, it affects all warehouses with 100 or more workers, and violations of the new law can be costly for an employer.
Under AB 701, warehouse employees must be provided with a written description of the quotas to which they are subject within 30 days of hire. Common quotas include the number of tasks the employee is required to perform, the materials to be produced or handled, and any adverse employment action that may result from a failure to meet the quota.

 

While employers may still implement quotas, employees are not required to meet a quota if it:

• Prevents them from taking required meal or rest periods,
• Prevents them from using the bathroom (including the time it takes to walk to and from the toilet), or
• Contravenes occupational health and safety laws. The law also bars employers from discriminating, retaliating or taking other adverse action against an employee who:
• Initiates a request for information about a quota or personal work-speed data, or
• Files a complaint alleging a quota violated the Labor Code.

 


October 2021 – CONSTRUCTION INDUSTRY – Building Risks Evolve, Creating Unique Challenges


AS THE CONSTRUCTION industry booms, contractors face evolving risks that, left unchecked, can leave their operation exposed to new liabilities.
If you already operate a construction firm, you know that there is a labor shortage that has made it difficult to find experienced workers and that hiring entities are asking builders to take on more of the design function, as well.
Your liability picture has also likely changed with the increasing use of wrap-ups and, if you’re using technology in your operation, you now have rising cyber-security risks, too.

Lack of qualified workers

The bottom fell out of the construction industry in the U.S. during the first few months of the COVID-19 pandemic, and many worksites were idled. Now that the industry has found its footing, it’s been dealing with a severe labor shortage.
As construction firms struggle to find workers, the ones who are on the job are having to take on larger workloads, which can put them at risk of injury or making mistakes.
Also, many contractors are having to take on younger, less-seasoned laborers, who may lack the experience to identify and avoid hazards, which puts them and others at risk of injury. Those injuries in turn affect your workers’ comp
premiums.
A lack of workers coupled with inexperienced new ones on sites can also end up drawing out projects, forcing contractors to miss deadlines.

Professional liability risks

As more project owners want an all-in-one job with the lead contractor designing and building the project, contractors now face a new type of risk: professional liability.

But the typical contractor’s insurance policy doesn’t provide protection for any design work you take on.
Courts have ruled that:

  • Designers who perform “builder activities” lose limitation of liability typically enjoyed by design professionals.
  • Builders who perform “design activities” assume responsibility for design deficiencies.

Wrap-ups more prevalent

Many construction projects are now covered under one general liability policy to cover the work of the general contractor, as well as of all the subs. More lenders are requiring that liability is set up in one all-encompassing policy.
A properly assembled general liability wrap-up should provide coverage not only during the construction period, but also up to 10 years after the work is completed.  These policies often reduce the cost of coverage.

More cyber-security risks

Like all industries, the construction sector has grown increasingly reliant on technology to get the job done. That exposes contractors to a variety of cyber risks, including keeping project designs, client records and employee records confidential.
Many building contracts today include clauses requiring the contractor to be responsible for potential cyber breaches.
Given the increasing popularity of practices such as “building information modeling,” “integrated project delivery,” and file-sharing between participants in a construction project, contractors may be at increased risk of liability in the event of a data breach.


October 2021 – WORKPLACE SAFETY- Permanent COVID-19 Standard Coming Soon


CAL/OSHA has taken the first step towards creating a semi-permanent COVID-19 standard to replace the emergency temporary standard that currently governs workplace coronavirus prevention measures in the state.

 

On Sept. 17, Cal/OSHA released a discussion draft for permanent COVID-19 regulations to give stakeholders the chance to comment on it before it starts work on writing the regs.  Even though they are “permanent,” the rules would be subject to renewal after two years from the effective date or they would expire if the threat has receded by that time.

Elements of the draft standard

Here’s what the draft standard would do:
Follow CDPH rules – Required that employers follow California Department of Public Health COVID-19 prevention orders.
Masks for unvaxxed staff – Unvaccinated staff must wear masks. Employers must provide masks when the CDPH requires them.
Outbreak rules – During an outbreak in the workplace, all staff would be required to wear face coverings regardless of vaccination status. Employers would need to provide respirators during major outbreaks to all employees.
No COVID-19 Prevention Plan – Employers would not need to have a COVID-19 Prevention Plan, as required in the temporary emergency standard. Instead, they would be required to address COVID-19 prevention strategies in their Injury and Illness Prevention Plan.
Masks for at-risk staff – Require employers to provide N95 respirators to employees who have been identified by a doctor as being at increased risk of severe illness from COVID-19, regardless of their vaccination status.
‘Fully vaccinated’ defined – Define a “fully vaccinated employee” to mean that the employer has a copy of their vaccination record that includes the vaccine maker and date of the last dose.
Retaining records – Require employers to keep COVID-19 vaccination records for two years after the period requiring them to keep the records ends. That means if the rule sunsets in a few years, employers would be required to keep those records for another two years.
Testing rules – Require that employers provide COVID-19 testing to all employees who have come into close contact with another team member who has tested positive for the virus. Testing must be provided at no cost to the employee.
No paid leave for infected staff – Eliminate the provision for paid leave for workers who contract the coronavirus.
Handwashing and cleaning – Eliminate rules regarding handwashing and cleaning and disinfecting procedures in the workplace.

The takeaway

If you have been following Cal/OSHA’s emergency temporary standard, you should continue to follow the current requirements. The new rules simplify the emergency standard, particularly concerning the requirement that COVID-19 prevention plans can be included in your IIPP rather than in a separate document.


October 2021 – Worker’s Compensation – COVID-19 Payroll Reporting Rules Have Ended


THE WORKERS’ Compensation Insurance Rating Bureau’s two temporary payroll reporting rules to reflect changes brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic stay-at-home orders have sunsetted.

The move came after Gov. Gavin Newsom’s June 9 executive order which revoked the statewide stay-at-home order that had been in place since March 19, 2020.

You may recall that after the stay-at-home order took effect, the Rating Bureau issued new rules for classifying staff who were suddenly working remotely, as well as payroll reporting for staff who were at home but not working.

The Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) rules that expired are:

A. Classifying remote workers in the Classification 8810 – Clerical Office Employees – As a result of the California stay-at-home order, many employers altered employees’ duties so they could be accomplished from home, and often those duties were clerical-like in nature.

Under the rule, an employee could be assigned payroll Classification 8810 if:
• Their duties met the definition of a “clerical office employee” while working from home,
• Their payroll for the balance of the policy period was not assignable to a standard classification that specifically excludes clerical office employees.

B. Salaries of non-working staff – Salaries paid to workers who were at home not working, yet still collecting a paycheck, would be excluded from payroll for workers’ comp premium calculation purposes when the payments were less than or equal to the employee’s regular rate of pay

Expiration: This rule expired 60 days after the end of the stay-at-home order, or Aug. 10. 

The takeaway

What this means is that if you have been classifying remote workers under Classification 8810, they will need to be returned to their original classification. Also, the rules still require that you maintain records that document any changes in duties for your staff during the period these rules were in effect and they were working from home.
The rules also require you to maintain records of their payroll during that period.


October 2021 – Wildfires Make for Difficult Insurance Market


MORE BUSINESSES in wildfire-prone areas are facing a difficult commercial property insurance market as insurers reduce their exposure and some have left the market altogether.

Many businesses in areas that have already been ravaged by fires in the past, or those located in areas that are near forests and large grassy areas are seeing their premiums increase – sometimes substantially by 300% or 400%.
Also, more businesses are finding few insurers that are willing to cover their properties.

According to a new report by insurance rating firm AM Best, California wildfires have caused over $4 billion in commercial property losses for insurers in three of the past four years.

It’s expected that 2021 fire losses could be even greater than those of the prior four years.

The fallout

  • Some insurers have stopped writing property insurance in high-risk areas.
  • Most insurers are increasing their rates substantially in high-risk areas.
  • Insurers are requiring policyholders to have mitigation measures like defensible space (see below).
  • Many policies have worse terms. One winery owner interviewed by the Los  Angeles Times said that his premium was typically $200,000 with a $25,000 deductible. His new policy costs $800,000 and includes a $500,000  deductible, and would only cover 20% of the value of his buildings.

The new playbook

Many insurers are applying three metrics in evaluating exposure to fire:
Brush mapping – This is a map of the tinder and brush, nearby trees, and other items that could contribute to your building(s) catching fire.
Wildland-urban interface – The closer that a building is to nature, the more at risk it is. A wildland-urban interface is defined by the Forest Services as a place where “humans and their development meet or intermix with wildland fuel.”
Concentration of properties an insurer covers in your area – If your carrier has a high concentration of policies for other properties in your area, they may opt to non-renew policies in order to reduce their exposure.

 

 

 

 

 

 

PROTECTING YOUR COMMERCIAL PROPERTY

  • Zone 1 (0-5 feet): Concrete, gravel mulch, and low-growing plants or lawns are good choices for this zone. Avoid combustible materials.
  • Zone 2 (5-30 feet): Vegetation island. Prune low tree branches. Remove shrubs.
  • Zone 3 (30-100 feet): Thin out vegetation between trees. Don’t let tree canopies touch.

The California FAIR Plan Is the Market of Last Resort 

Coverage options

If all insurers have rejected a property, we have two options:

– The non-admitted market – These insurers, which include Lloyd’s of London, are usually willing to write buildings in higher-risk areas, but they too have increased their underwriting criteria.

– The California FAIR Plan – If we cannot find an insurer in the non-admitted market, the last choice is the FAIR Plan, which is the market of last resort for property owners that cannot get coverage elsewhere.

Policies cover losses from fire, lightning, and explosion only.
Also, policies are limited in what they will payout, so if you have millions of dollars tied up in equipment and/or inventory, the policy may not be enough to cover all the damage you incur from a wildfire.

The maximum limit for commercial properties is $3 million for structures and $1.5 million for all other coverages, for a combined $4.5 million limit for all commercial properties at one location. But there are some exceptions.

Your options if you go to the FAIR Plan

If the FAIR Plan coverage is not enough for your needs, we can find another insurer that provides excess coverage that
would kick in at a certain dollar amount of damage.

And for risks that are not covered, we would have to also find you a “differences in conditions” policy. Combined with FAIR Plan coverage, adding such a policy can nearly mimic the coverage of a commercial policy.

 


July 2021 – Non-Admitted Carriers – The Option When No Insurers Will Cover You


SOME BUSINESSES are finding fewer insurers willing to write their policies for certain types of coverage that are seeing rapidly rising claims costs, particularly in liability lines as well as property insurance in areas with exposure to natural catastrophes.
When no insurers that are licensed in California are willing to write a policy, we as your agent have to go to another market made up of insurance companies that are not licensed or regulated by the state.
It’s called the surplus lines (or “non-admitted”) market, and it can be a valuable alternative for insurance buyers.
As insurers get more selective writing some risks, it’s important for you as an insurance buyer to understand this market.

Why use a non-admitted carrier?

The most well-known non-admitted insurer is Lloyd’s of London, famous for insuring insurance companies and celebrities’ or sports figures’ body parts and global sporting events. Often non-admitted insurance companies are located in other states or domiciled abroad, like Bermuda or another tax-haven country.
Unlike licensed insurance companies, non-admitted companies do not have to obtain approval from state regulators for the policy forms they use or the rates they charge.

 

 

Since they are not regulated by the state, non-admitted insurers can offer creative coverage options and they can quickly and easily introduce new types of insurance that businesses need.
Some types of policies that are standard today, such as cyber insurance and employment practices liability insurance, got their start in the non-admitted market.
State laws typically permit a broker to obtain coverage from a non-admitted insurer only if at least a few standard insurance companies refuse to offer coverage. However, most also have coverage options that are not available in the standard market.
When someone needs one of the latter coverages, no rejections from licensed companies are required. An example might be liability insurance for contractors who demolish buildings.

Risks

There are risks to purchasing insurance in the non-admitted market. Policies may provide less coverage than do standard policies, or there may be restrictions on when coverage applies. Policies should be reviewed carefully. Also, because the insurers can charge whatever they feel is appropriate, premiums can be higher than you may expect. The policies may also be exempt from state laws regarding notices of cancellation and non-renewal.
Also, in every state but one (New Jersey), non-admitted policies are not backed by a guaranty fund. Guaranty funds cover claims left unpaid when an insurer is unable to pay for them. If a non-admitted company becomes insolvent, the policyholder has no recourse.

The takeaway

Despite the risks, the non-admitted market serves an important function, giving buyers a place to get needed coverage that would be otherwise unavailable.
Those who think they may need to tap this market should consult with us to find the right coverage at an acceptable price.


July 2021 – Construction Coverage – Builder’s Risk, Excess Liability Rates Climbing Fast


INSURANCE RATES are rising rapidly for contractors, particularly for builder’s risk and excess liability policies as the cost of claims continues to increase dramatically.
While rates for builder’s risk have been averaging 10 to 20%, pricing for excess liability and umbrella coverage has in some cases doubled from the year prior.
Both lines of insurance have seen steep and unexpected losses in recent years, resulting in some insurers leaving the market and others becoming stricter in their underwriting and choosier about which builders they are willing to extend coverage to.
If you’ve been in the market for these lines of insurance, you know that it’s become more difficult to secure similar policies to those you may have had in years past. Here’s a look at what’s going on.

Builder’s risk

According to Construction Executive magazine, rates are going up between 10% and 20% for builder’s risk policies. There are a number of factors affecting rates:
• The cost of claims has increased, primarily because of the cost of rebuilding after a loss event due to the rapidly rising cost of materials, in particular lumber, the prices of which have tripled in the last year.
• The increasing cost and frequency of natural disasters. Projects that are near areas at high risk for natural catastrophes like brush fires, hurricanes, tornadoes or flooding, are all seeing higher rates and/or difficulty in securing coverage.
• Some insurers have also left the market, leaving fewer players willing to write this risk, which has driven up pricing.

Insurers are tightening eligibility guidelines and restricting how much they will cover. Some insurers are getting more selective and demanding that their insureds take extra precautions before they are willing to bind a policy.

Some of the more common demands include requiring:
• Video surveillance systems on worksites.
• Guards to patrol worksites at night.
• The installation of fencing and lighting.

One of the biggest pinch points is policy extensions, which are needed when projects go beyond the time expected to complete them.

Due to the issues mentioned in the bullet points above, policy extensions for ongoing projects have been difficult to secure, according to a report by WillisTowersWatson. The problem has been exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic, which disrupted many construction projects across the country and required more companies to seek out extensions for their builder’s risk policies.

Excess liability

Renewals for excess liability and umbrella insurance have been running 50 to 100% higher than in 2020, according to a recent report by Marsh LLC. Excess liability and umbrella coverage kick in after a claim breaches the limits of a primary general liability policy or auto liability.

The drivers: Increasingly large jury awards and the spiraling cost of liability claims, particularly for commercial vehicle accidents. Commercial auto insurance rates have also been climbing as the cost of auto injury and property claims continue to rise due to the increasing cost of repairs and medical costs for injured third parties…

Those claims are covered by primary auto and general liability insurers, but because more claims are exceeding limits, excess liability carriers are increasingly on the hook for those high-dollar claims. Like in the builder’s risk segment, this has resulted in fewer insurers willing to write new policies.

Those that are willing to write new business or renew policies have imposed stricter underwriting terms on the policies they are willing to accept.
Additionally, according to Marsh, primary and excess insurers are limiting the overall capacity extended to an individual buyer by capping per-project aggregate limits.

The takeaway

With the volatility in the marketplace, we recommend that you reach out to us early – and months before your policy is coming up for renewal – so we can work with you to make sure we can secure the coverage you need.


July 2021 – Workers’ Compensation – New Changes to X-Mods, Classification Rules


INSURANCE COMMISSIONER Ricardo Lara has approved a regulatory filing that will change the premium threshold for employers to qualify for an experience modifier (X-Mod).

The approval was part of a larger regulatory filing the Workers’ Compensation Rating Bureau made to also change expected claims costs, eliminate a few class codes and make new rules for companies that operate multiple enterprises.

The approved filing also updates expected claims cost rates for all 500-plus worker class codes that are used to calculate workers’ comp rates. Here’s a rundown of the changes:

X-Mod change

Currently, the minimum premium an employer must pay annually to receive an X-Mod is $9,900, but that is falling to $9,500, starting Sept. 1. That means any employer that has an annual premium of $9,500 starting on that date will be “experience rated.” The X-Mod is a number used by insurance companies to either discount or increase the premiums you pay for workers’ compensation insurance. It is based on your company’s workers’ comp claim history and reflects the most recent three years.

Multiple enterprises rule

The new rules make changes to what is known as the “multiple enterprises rule,” which applies to companies that have two or more operations that perform work that is classified differently. In those cases, the distinct operations must be classified under the multiple enterprises rule.

In the new rule, separation is the key requirement. If distinct operations are physically separated, each distinct location shall be separately classified.

Separation can be separate operations:
• Located in separate buildings,
• Located on separate floors of a building, or
• Separated by walls if they are on the same floor.
However, if two or more of the distinct operations are not physically separated, they must be assigned to the highest-rated classification applicable to the operations conducted in the common workspace.

The rule also addresses personnel that may float between multiple enterprises, performing different types of work at each operation.
Under the rule, such an employee’s work may be divided into two classifications. If you plan to classify them this way, make sure to keep accurate and complete records supported by time cards or time book entries that show how much time they spent performing each distinct work task for each entity.

If the employer fails to keep those records, the entire pay of the worker will be assigned to the highest-rated classification applied to any part of the work they perform.

Classification changes

There are also changes being made to some construction classes.
The 8110 – Stores Welding supplies classification is being eliminated and covered operations will be reassigned to 8010 – Stores hardware, electrical or plumbing supplies. Also, the iron or steel erection classes 5057 and 5059 will be eliminated, as well as subclasses 5102(3), 5040(2) and 5040(3).

Operations in those eliminated classifications will instead be assigned into one of two consolidated classes:
• 5040 – Structural Iron or Steel operations, or
• 5102 – Iron, Steel, Brass, Bronze or Aluminum Erection – non-structural.