Insurers are writing more professional liability coverage for designers, with rates holding steady in the buyer’s market, says a new survey by insurance broker and risk consultant Ames & Gough.
“It’s still a buyer’s market … and clients are paying about what they paid eight years ago,” says Dan Knise, Ames & Gough chief executive. The annual survey presents responses from 17 senior underwriting executives. Along with rising workloads, insurers say they are writing more insurance coverage for hacking and technology-related risk.
With claims low, downward pressure has lowered rates for almost one out of five insurers that were surveyed. The rest say rates are holding steady or slightly higher. For most insurers, the largest single professional liability loss paid in 2017 was more than $1 million. However, four firms paid more than $5 million for a single professional liability loss. According to the survey, larger claim payments have spurred the purchase of higher limits, with design firm clients regularly requiring limits of $5 million or $10 million.
Knise says architects and engineers are working on bigger and more complicated projects, with rising revenue typically at the forefront of new technology, which nudges coverage upward. According to the survey, 76% are exploring new or expanded coverage for cyber-liability and 53% for drone use.
“There are concerns on the changing trends in the industry,” Knise says, citing hacks, crashed systems and damaged, lost or incorrect building information modeling. But, he says, cyber-liability extends to constructibility with the rise of BIM. “From a constructibility perspective, it has made projects more complex,” with more curved and unusually shaped structures, Knise says.
While insurers are cautious about technology and the buildings they can create, Knise says, BIM ultimately will convince insurers the flip-side risk is low. “Having real-time access to plans, being able to look at issues in real time is a real plus,” he says.