Insurance Renewals – Navigating the Hard Market

Actions That Aid Results

By Brett Findlay, ARM, CRIS

The New York construction industry, and realistically the entire New York business landscape, is in the midst of an insurance hard market. The lack of insurance availability and the pricing volatility associated with it is leaving consumers in a difficult place when it comes to their insurance renewals. Although insurance options may be limited, it’s critical to know what or who those options are and when to approach them. Proactively managing your program can be an effective solution to unpredictable insurance renewals.

A hard insurance market is characterized by an increased demand for insurance coverage coupled with reduced supply. Underwriting guidelines from the carriers will become more stringent, policies issued by carriers will decrease, premiums are higher, and carriers are less willing to negotiate terms. The current market is hard and exhibiting all of those tendencies. The questions is, how do you proactively and effectively manage your program to counter the marketplace?

There are a couple simple strategies you can deploy to make this process more manageable and limit surprises and negative outcomes for your business.

Know where to look. A lack of options and higher prices are attributable to most coverage lines of insurance right now, including but not limited to property, commercial automobile liability, and umbrella liability. Identifying the key coverage lines of your program and asking your agent what the renewal is looking like early in the process is the first step. At that point, you should be gathering the data necessary for the carriers to quote those lines for you. Accurate data, provided in full 90+ days prior to the renewal date, will help your cause.

Be ahead of the renewal. By starting the renewal process early, 90+ days out, and by utilizing a broker who understands your business and the insurance marketplace, you’re putting yourself in a better position. It’s critical to select a broker that has availability to those necessary carriers. Ask the broker at that early stage what their marketing strategy is, what carriers they’ll be approaching and why.  Some of the carriers may need to visit your operations and meet with key team members in advance of providing alternatives. As they are interviewing you, this is a great time to ask them questions to see if a partnership would be a good fit for your operations and growth strategy. This is a key reason for why timing is so important. When you are discussing this process with your agent, if you’re not comfortable with their answers, it may be time to find a new one.

Know the landscape (and how to work within it). Much like the construction industry, insurance companies aren’t immune to staffing shortages either. Underwriters are going to work on accounts where they have all the data necessary to finish their process and in a timely manner. If you are not in front of them early, with what they need, the likelihood that you’ll be getting their best is drastically reduced.

It’s equally important that your agent is competent in representing your best attributes. The ability of that agent to forecast the costs and insurance availability with the proper insurance carrier should be a pre-requisite. Knowing how to communicate your businesses story is also key. You need someone who knows construction, knows your business and knows the carriers and underwriters that are writing insurance competitively for your type of operations.

Relationships Matter. A broker’s relationship with their carriers is every bit as important as your relationship to your agent; there are two sides to the relationship. Having an agency that is well respected in the local insurance marketplace is critical to getting the best program in place at the most competitive cost. This becomes even more critical when the availability of options is limited. I firmly believe that instead of selecting multiple brokers to “quote” your insurance, it’s significantly more beneficial to interview brokers and select one to represent you. You’ll garner greater respect and attention to your business if the local underwriters know that you’re serious about your program and who represents it. If they get multiple submissions from different agents, and the data those agents submit is conflicting, the likelihood that you’ll get their best is also limited.

A hard market is rarely a fun process to go through, but you can proactively position your business to handle the situation. Talk to your agent, prepare yourself for the unexpected and the possibility of having to market your insurance, and get in front of the curve. Contractors, especially in today’s economic landscape, must be sharper than ever to increase or even maintain profit margins. Preparing yourself for a hard market and forecasting any potential dramatic increases to your insurance costs, will put you in a better position to control those margins.

For more information please contact Senior Vice President, Business Risk Specialist Brett Findlay at

This content is for informational purposes only and not for the purpose of providing professional, financial, medical or legal advice. You should contact your licensed professional to obtain advice with respect to any particular issue or problem. Please refer to your policy contract for any specific information or questions on applicability of coverage.

Please note coverage can not be bound or a claim reported without written acknowledgment from a OneGroup Representative.