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The ultimate effects of the COVID-19 pandemic will take some time to manifest across liability lines as the tumult takes place against the backdrop of a hardening market, executives say.
The industry is “still trying to figure a lot out,” from a liability perspective, said Saadia Savory, vice president, head of casualty Bermuda for Aspen Insurance, Bermuda. From a claims perspective, she said, “it is still early.”
The comments were made by the Bermuda executives speaking Thursday at the Risk & Insurance Management Society Inc.’s 2021 conference, which was held virtually.
The market is very much in a state of flux, according to Kirsten Beasley, head of Willis Bermuda, head of health care broking, North America at Willis Towers Watson PLC. A great deal of emphasis was placed on planning and communication with clients, including extending timelines and maintaining clear expectations with insurer partners.
“Pivot” was the word used by Judy Gonsalves, division president, Chubb Bermuda. This included moves such as providing large blocks of capacity to top off a liability tower to deploying shorter lines to fill holes further down for clients.
The hardening market also touched the liability sector.
Ms. Gonsalves said the hard market was being driven by an imbalance of loss trends and rates. “For well over a decade, loss cost trends have been outstripping liability rates and rate adequacy,” she said.
Ms. Beasley described the pandemic as “a slow-moving catastrophe” that basically threw gas on the fire on the hardening market. Business had to be done, and renewals were complicated by the pandemic and the emergence of new language such as pandemic exclusions.
Social movements in the U.S. have affected coverages such as real estate, according to Ms. Savory. Some events have produced property claims, and issues can be quite emotional, which can affect claim amounts. “Social inflation is something very real,” she said.
More insurance and risk management news on the coronavirus crisis here.
Increased discussions and concerns over social inflation have been accompanied by a rise in insurance pricing in several commercial coverage lines and a reduction in available capacity, particularly for excess liability insurance.