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
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 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.
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.
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.
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
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.