In the wake of the pandemic there are many things that have changed in the insurance marketplace. Rates are on the rise, exclusions are being added, and most of these changes are out of your and your client’s control. One issue that you can address, and which has recently come up in our office, is the increase in the cost of construction due to material and labor shortages. A Bloomberg article recently published concerning construction costs stated: “In some cases, the price increases have topped 100% since the pandemic began.” (https://www.bloomberg.com/graphics/2021-us-housing-construction-costs/)
Have you spoken to your clients about coinsurance and how the increase in the cost of construction could affect their insurance coverage? It is a tough conversation to have given the current state of most small businesses, but it is one that needs to happen to ensure your clients have the proper coverage. COVID litigation and the decision of whether there is direct damage is a process that will work itself out in court, but insufficient property limits and explaining this to your clients is in your control.
Most renewal business in the insurance industry is bound using the existing coverage in place. I strongly recommend researching the current cost of construction in your area and updating values to reflect any increases you find. With the inconsistency of construction estimator tools in the insurance industry, I suggest you talk to one of your customers that is involved in construction and ask for help in determining the local increase in cost.
The increase in construction costs has been in the news recently, but most insurance buyers will not understand the impact it may have on their coverage and potential claims settlements. Throughout my 35 years in the insurance industry, I have had the privilege of meeting many of our agents and know that you are always working to find ways to add value for your customers. Use this as another opportunity to show your clients and prospects the value they get in working with you. Price is fleeting when a client has an unexpectedly bad claims experience, and you must tell your client: “Your building was not insured properly, but we can fix that next time.” The next time will be with their new agent, and you will have an E&O claim for this time.
Chief Underwriting Officer