OAPSLO in conjunction with OIA presented a webinar on Navigating the Hard Market – Designing Top Quality Submissions on Dec. 9, 2020. Seventy-one agents were educated on this topic!
OAPSLO Panelists Ken Kukral, Jason Stoermer, JB Civille, and Andy Hamilton were joined by Judy Sivy (OIA) to provide valuable information to OAPSLO and OIA members. If you were unable to attend you can access the recording by clicking the link below.
Gov. DeWine announced the appointment today of former Justice of the Ohio Supreme Court Judith French as Director of the Ohio Department of Insurance (ODI). Justice French left the Court earlier this month after losing her re-election bid to Jennifer Brunner.
Judi French will bring a unique and extensive experience to ODI. She has had a remarkable career serving in Ohio’s judicial system on the Supreme Court and the 10th District Court of Appeals. Director French authored a number of cases on insurance issues and has much familiarity with the industry.
Please contact Carolyn Mangas, OIA’s Government Affairs Manager for any questions or thoughts on this appointment at firstname.lastname@example.org or (614) 552-3051.
Social inflation is an issue that continues to gain intensity – but what does it mean for our industry? The term describes the convergence of societal and legal trends to the tune of increased litigation, broader definition of duty to care, legal decisions tipping in the plaintiff’s favor, and larger jury awards.
In turn, we’re seeing an increase in both frequency and severity of liability claims, impacting insurers all the way at the top of the tower as they try to cover the growing losses. This trend is not only driving up the cost of claims, but also contributing to rate increases across the board.
To date, social inflation has had the most pronounced impact on large corporate risks in the umbrella and excess liability space, commercial auto, medical malpractice and directors & officers. The average general liability combined ratio was estimated at 104% for 2019, the sixth consecutive year of underwriting losses. The 2019 auto liability combined ratio was 110%.1
This article explores the issues driving social inflation, mitigation strategies and what the future holds for impacted sectors, particularly transportation.
Four Key Shifts Driving the Rise in Claims
1. Jurors perspective. A main driver of social inflation is the anti-corporate sentiment dating back to the 2008 financial crisis. These new attitudes mean that injured parties are more likely to bring litigation against companies – and win. Jurors today are often biased toward the plaintiff in the name of social justice. They strive to hold big companies responsible and make statements with their actions. According to The National Law Journal, 42% of jurors say they would decide a case based on what they believe is fair.2
2. Litigation funding. Claimants are receiving help from outside investors to bring their cases to court. These investors pay legal fees and expenses (primarily towards a top-notch plaintiff’s attorney) in exchange for a stake in potential awards and settlements.
3. Plaintiff’s bar. The bar is a well-organized and sophisticated group willing to invest in advertising, social media, technology and expert resources to drive damage awards.
4. Normalization of nuclear verdicts. Across state courts, caps on punitive damages and damages for pain and suffering are being raised or eliminated entirely. This breaks the ceiling on what plaintiffs can ask for and be awarded.
Over the past several years, there have been numerous instances of trucking firms involved in an accident where logical reason would not find the firm to be negligent. They were simply in the wrong place at the wrong time.
In May 2018, a case was brought to the Texas state jury involving a Houston family and a tragic collision between their vehicle and a truck owned by Werner Enterprises Inc. The jury found the trucking company responsible for the 2014 accident, which resulted in the death of a seven-year-old boy, the paralysis of a 12-year-old girl and extensive brain damage to a third child.
The accident occurred during dangerous winter road conditions including freezing rain and subsequent “black ice.” The plaintiff’s vehicle lost control on a divided highway, crossed over the median and crashed into a Werner-owned truck that was allegedly not equipped with proper safety features. The jury awarded $90 million to the plaintiff.3
Strategic Response to Social Inflation: Choosing the Right Partner
Insurance coverage is just one part of the equation in battling social inflation. Educating your clients and managing expectations is a critical first step. Risk mitigation strategies should also be implemented to make your client’s risk best in class. These include effective safety programs, good maintenance of property, leases that properly transfer risk to other parties, and adequate security.4
Retailers should partner with a wholesaler who not only understands the insured’s risk profile, but also has access to leading insurance carriers and understands their claims philosophy. Things to look for in a carrier include the following.
A comprehensive approach. The best results come from a proactive strategy to prevent litigation.
Claims specialists that apply thoughtful, creative solutions to each situation.
Cutting-edge evaluation tools and analytics.
Intentional litigation strategy where all parties work in sync, using a total cost of claim philosophy and following an agreed-upon strategy to save money, time and resources.
Continuously monitor predictive data to anticipate future decisions and measure operational metrics, backfill historical litigation data, perform legal audits, use advanced analytics and adhere to our quality assurance program. This data provides insights that control costs, guide strategy and lead to the best possible outcomes.
Experienced adjusters with a flexible approach to early resolution, core bodily injury and complex teams, that are poised to handle high-profile claims in an efficient and timely manner.
Early intervention. While it’s important to prevent litigation, it’s always best to be over prepared.
Utilize mock juries to test themes, arguments, liability damages and issues. This provides critical insights that teams use in and out of the courtroom.
Identify challenging and unfavorable cases early.
What Does the Future Hold?
Thanks to COVID-19 causing a backlog in court proceedings, we may experience a temporary pause in nuclear verdicts while the juries are out. Many plaintiffs realize that it could be years before their case sees a trial and are taking the settlement amount offered by defendants.5 However, given the varying degrees of uncertainty, its unknown what to expect long-term. Social inflation could get worse before it gets better.
In the commercial transportation industry, the influx of new technology – including sensors, cameras and autonomous tech – is giving transportation firms greater control in their legal defense. By providing an accurate snapshot of what happened in the incident, technology has the potential to be a vital resource when it comes to settling claims. However, while the benefits are clear from a safety perspective, technology has yet to make a material impact on the harsh legal environment and nuclear verdicts.6
Social inflation is adversely impacting capacity offered on umbrella towers and significantly increasing pricing. It’s difficult for carriers to quantify or underwrite based on these societal attitudes regarding distribution of wealth and perceived sense of justice. The verdicts being awarded are crippling business owners and insurance companies alike, and also impacting the overall economy. Commerce will suffer if this continues to the point where trucking companies cannot afford their insurance premiums and are forced to close their doors. The specialists at AmWINS are here to help you provide a risk management plan for your clients during these challenging times.
About the Authors
Andrea Dickinson – Branch leader, executive vice president and transportation insurance specialist, AmWINS Brokerage of Tennessee.
Meg Sutton – Senior Vice President, U.S. Casualty, Global Risk Solutions (GRS) North America, Liberty Mutual Insurance.
To learn more about how AmWINS can help you place coverage for your clients, reach out to your local AmWINS broker. If you do not have a contact at AmWINS, please click here.
Legal Disclaimer. Views expressed here do not constitute legal advice. The information contained herein is for general guidance of matter only and not for the purpose of providing legal advice. Discussion of insurance policy language is descriptive only. Every policy has different policy language. Coverage afforded under any insurance policy issued is subject to individual policy terms and conditions. Please refer to your policy for the actual language.
Congratulations to the 2021 OAPSLO Board of Trustees elected at the Dec. 16, 2020 Annual Business Meeting! We are looking forward to an exciting year ahead under their leadership, and being your voice for the specialty and surplus lines insurance industry in Ohio. Go to oapslo.org to renew your membership or join today.
President – Ken Kukral, CIC, International Excess Program Managers, Beachwood
Vice President – Terry Quested, Associated Risk Managers of Ohio Agencies, Westerville
On Nov. 23, Gov. DeWine signed House Bill 404 into law. This legislation includes an immediate extension for licenses that are set to expire on or before April 1, 2021 and allows them to remain valid until July 1, 2021. This is the second license extension that the Ohio General Assembly has granted. If you recall, an extension was provided earlier this year for licenses that expired during the state of emergency Gov. DeWine declared on March 9, 2020 until Dec. 1st. With the pandemic still impacting our daily lives, the Legislature has again offered an extension.
This extension applies to any individual or business entity that holds an active license with the Ohio Department of Insurance. This includes major lines agents; limited line agents; title agents; title insurance marketing representatives; managing general agents; public insurance adjusters and agents; reinsurance intermediary brokers and managers; surety bail bond agents; surplus lines brokers; third party administrators; and viatical settlement brokers.
Bottom-line: Insurance agents with a license expiration date that falls on or before April 1, 2021 will get an extension to renew their license until July 1, 2021. All late fees will be waived and license-holders do not need to take any actions to receive the extension. This extension also applies to driver’s licenses. Note that ODI issued Bulletin 2020-06 earlier this year directing insurers to “temporarily suspend certain actions which they would otherwise be permitted to take due to the expiration of the driver license of a name insured or other covered family member.”
As a result of the extension, ODI will periodically adjust expiration dates within their computer system and the National Insurance Producer Registry (NIPR). While the adjusted expiration dates may appear to be sooner than the extension given, that is only to ensure that your access to NIPR is continuously available. ODI will continuously adjust the license expiration dates of affected licenses until the extension granted ends.
Continuing Education Requirements
Due to the extension of expiration dates, the deadline for completing CE requirements is also extended. CE providers are still offering courses, both online and in other distance learning formats, and agents are encouraged to complete as much as possible to prevent the system from being overwhelmed once the license extension period ends. Additionally, while license-holders will have extra time to renew their licenses, ODI encourages renewals to be completed prior to the extension ending to ensure timely processing.
Should you have any questions or concerns, contact Carolyn Mangas at email@example.com or (614) 552-3051.
By Ken Kukral, VP of Special Risks, International Excess Program Managers, a division of One80 Intermediaries
I remember a number of years ago when I went to a reception held on the aircraft carrier The USS Intrepid. Kind of a unique place for a cocktail party but I figured I would go check it out. Well the week I was in New York it was in the 80’s then in the 40’s a day later so it was tough to control the temperature so it was a bit stuffy on an aircraft carrier. I quickly thought, I will make a showing and then slip out. As I tried to sneak towards the door I overheard one of the tour guides telling the story or some of the battles the aircraft carrier was in. I was enthralled by the stories he was telling and how he brought them to life. Over 10 years later I can still remember the stories he told. So the value of telling a story in an interesting and “lifelike” format is that it will be memorable. I only wish all history teachers could realize this and incorporate it into their classrooms.
So why don’t more producers look to tell their clients “story” so that it will bring the account to life and catch the interest of the underwriter? I have always heard in sales it is “all about the story”. There is no way an application can tell the full story on an account so why not “tell the rest of the story” as the late Paul Harvey used to say.
You do want your submissions to stick out and catch the interest of the underwriter don’t you? A well written narrative will answer many of the questions the underwriter may have and help speed your submission to the quoted stack. There is nothing worse than back and forth information gathering so slow down getting a quote. If you think about it, so few submissions have narratives anymore, that your submission will stick out favorably.
So what are the components of a good narrative?
1. One page in a story format
2. Details of your knowledge or relationship with the customer
3. Details of what makes this a good account
4. Loss control or risk management that the customer has implemented.
5. Explanations of any losses
6. Details of the business including growth plans
7. Why the carrier has a good opportunity to write this account
8. Any pricing or terms you need for this account to improve on their existing program.
9. Any gaps in the “story” for this account
10. Last but not least, when you need the quote by.
It is not a contest to see how little information you can to the carrier and still get a quote. This is a journey to properly write the account with the best value you can so that it can be a long-term client for your agency. Develop your own narrative story format, be consistent and tell your clients “story” the best way you can. I would love to see any template format that your agency is presently using.
Ohio Association of Professional Specialty Lines Offices will hold its Annual Business Meeting at 2:00 p.m. on Wednesday, Dec. 16, 2020 via Zoom for the following purposes:
A. To consider and vote on the following individuals to the Board of Trustees commencing Jan. 1, 2021:
President Kenneth Kukral, CIC
International Excess Program Managers
Vice President Terry Quested
Associated Risk Managers of Ohio Agencies
Secretary/Treasurer Patricia Curnutte
AmWINS Brokerage of the Midwest, LLC
Stoermer Insurance Brokers
Kyle Enderle, CPCU
Great American Risk Solutions
OAPSLO is looking for three additional members to serve on the Board of Trustees and one additional company advisor. Please contact Ken Kukral at firstname.lastname@example.org or (440) 725-4291 if you would like to learn more about serving or would like to nominate someone.
B. For receiving annual reports and the transaction of other business as outlined in the Articles of Incorporation.
After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the webinar. For questions, please contact Shawna Belcher at email@example.com or (800) 555-1742 ext: 1102.
Historically, warehouse legal liability (WHLL) has been a complicated line with many gray areas and multiple interpretations of its coverages. Over the course of the recent soft market, WHLL strayed away from its original intent. With the re-emergence of a healthier market environment, it can go back to its roots: to cover the legal responsibility of an individual or organization providing warehousing and handling services. In one sense, it is the non-transit (or static) relative of cargo legal liability, but in another sense, it is a totally different animal.