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Renewals: catastrophe risks, cyber see mid-year challenges

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Property and casualty premium rates are on the rise again for the mid-year renewals, with rate gains moderating in some areas, while catastrophe-affected property faces challenges and cyber continues to climb.

Brokers say increases of around 10-15% are being seen on “clean” property renewals, but an adverse claims history or being located in catastrophe affected areas such as far north Queensland or recent flood-hit regions presents particular difficulties.

“Above the 26th parallel remains incredibly difficult and of course we have seen the devastation caused by floods in southeast Queensland and Northern NSW, alongside north western Sydney, which will no doubt impede any opportunity to continue insurance to these regions at an affordable rate, if at all,” Resilium GM Broking Angela O’Neil tells insuranceNEWS.com.au.

Rate increases are seen in property where there is expanded polystyrene and asbestos, while casualty availability for hospitality and leisure is more difficult than previously.

Conversations are well underway for renewals with clients and insurers as brokers again highlight the importance of beginning work early, particularly where issues are likely and given capacity constraints in some areas.

“We are utilising more insurers and agencies than in previous times, we have property policies with three to four insurers on it, where it was always held by one insurer, and excess layers on casualty and financial lines policies is very common,” Ms O’Neil says.

WTW Head of Broking Australasia Trent Williams says some competition has returned for “good” risks whilst capacity concerns remain for clients looking to increase limits following a review of asset limits. Updated valuations and re-modelled business interruption sums insured are being driven by inflation.

“With respect to property, the full effect of the southeast Queensland and northern NSW floods have not yet come through in insurers’ terms and conditions,” he says.

Mr Williams says for liability, excess layer capacity, where there has been significant reductions over the past 24 months, has settled with technical rating mostly being achieved.

Insurance Advisernet MD Shaun Standfield says there’s uncertainty for far north Queensland risk, with more specific details required, while risks exposed to natural catastrophe perils face serious review for capacity and the prospect of rate increases in both domestic and commercial.

Professional lines claims’ cost inflation is seeing rates climbing, he says. Lloyd’s capacity and pricing is levelling off from recent years and may see more placement to agency or offshore.

MGA MD Paul George says professional lines renewals are seeing at least 25% premium increases almost as a matter of course. Liability seems quite mixed with leisure occupations finding renewals tough.

“Whilst this was always in the hard to place area of liability, cover is sometimes proving to be unattainable,” he said.

Cyber continues to see halving of indemnity limits, premium increases of at least 30% and doubling excesses.

“This is a sharp adjustment, and now appears to be the new normal,” Mr George says. “It’s becoming clear that a new line has been drawn in this market and it seems any risks which fall below a certain criteria around IT security are not likely to get a renewal offer.”