Recent claims are playing a larger role in the way insurance underwriters analyze a particular risk in coverage for engineers and architects, says broker Ames & Gough.

Based on a survey of underwriting executives at 19 insurers, Ames & Gough says that almost all the companies it surveyed, 95%, rated recent claims among the top factors for raising a specific firm’s professional liability premium rates.

“That’s a big jump from the 79% of insurers citing the same issue a year ago,” the company reported.

Professional liability insurance plays a big role in risk management at engineering and architectural practices and consultants.

In both 2017 and 2016, insurers said the top factors driving rating decisions on individual accounts were project type, historic claims experience and type of work or service. Quality of a firm’s leadership, which had been a consideration in last year’s survey, wasn’t a factor this year.

The Ames & Gough survey also covered premium rates, which were the most part are expected to remain flat, and trends in the industry.

When it comes to underwriting factors, a firm’s revenues play an important role along with other elements of a firm’s total risk profile.

“Lower-exposure services,” according the survey report, such as filings paid to insured sub consultants and use of limitation of liability provisions in contracts, could help discount rates, says Ames & Gough.

Interestingly, the low profile given to a firm’s internal risk management practices “may be somewhat misleading,” says the survey report, in that many underwriters “now consider that factor a given in terms of how A/E firms are managed and governed.”