by Christy Heitger-Ewing

As we settle into spring, it’s wise to educate yourself not only on how weather and inflation are impacting the personal and business insurance market but also ways in which you can navigate those challenges.

After decades of low premiums and abundant capacity, we are now in the midst of a hard insurance market. A hard insurance market is defined as a tightening or increased stringency in market conditions, which has led to significant increases in the total costs of risk. Throughout 2023, rate increases in homes and business property, in particular, were up over 20%. With capacity restrictions, the team at Shepherd Insurance saw a narrowing of appetite as it relates to how much insurance carriers were willing to propose.

“Insurance is not what it used to be, which is why independent insurance agents are more important than ever. Talk to your insurance agent as soon as you can about your detailed renewal terms, but at least 30 days prior to the renewal date,” says Bruce Klineman, Insurance Advisor with Shepherd Insurance. “In today’s market, it can take much longer to secure the right coverage.”

Consider taking steps to reduce your risks. When agents take a new prospect to the marketplace and ask their carriers if they are interested in proposing this opportunity, the first question they get is, “What’s the claims history over a 3-5 year period?”

“Discuss and be transparent with your agent that you’d like a detailed claims history,” says Klineman. “If you have had claims, what things have you done to mitigate or lessen the likelihood of having similar claims?”

Carriers also brought changes to terms and conditions such as adding carve-outs for things like wind and hail, particularly in gulf or coastal states. As insurance carriers’ loss ratios continue to go in a negative direction, they will also continue to update their terms and conditions to account for these losses.

“As a consumer of insurance, it is critical you read your policies in their entirety. If questions arise contact your agent for further clarification,” says Klineman.

While we are seeing an increase in premiums, there are still a few things you can do to help create your own rate relief. Avoiding small home insurance claims, building longevity with your insurer, bundling policies, and reviewing your coverage with your agent are all steps you can take to help minimize your insurance costs.

As a homeowner and/or a business owner, you want to make sure you have the proper coverages in place. Reach out to an independent agent who can offer personalized and unbiased advice tailored to your specific needs. They can offer annual policy reviews, provide ongoing support, and advocate on your behalf with the underwriter.