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Commercial Lines 2021 Insurance Market Update for AssociationsFor many associations, insurance premiums are the largest overhead cost, so it’s very important to accurately forecast any changes. Each year, we review market conditions and trends that may impact your insurance renewal premiums, providing you with an educated look at how they may impact your association’s budget. The Florida condominium marketplace has tightened substantially over the past few months and may tighten further in the near future as a result of several developments happening simultaneously. These developments include but are not limited to the following.

  • Everest is in the process of completely exiting the admitted and non-admitted condo marketplace in Florida.
  • Weston is in the midst of non-renewing hundreds of condominium policies.
  • NSM’s (CHAMP) current focus is on condominiums with TIVs less than $25M (seeking limits up to $30 million) through Renaissance Re as Lexington (which had much higher capacity) is non-renewing all policies starting February 1st 2021, where in the past they had also focused on TIVs in excess of $25M. This change is likely to impact hundreds of condominium accounts. Also, rate increases of at least 25% are being quoted.
  • As of March, American Capital Assurance Corp. is no longer followed or rated by Demotech. In early March, AM Best downgraded American Capital Assurance Corp to a C (Weak), and further downgraded the Financial Strength Rating to D (Poor) on March 25, 2021.
  • Effective Immediately (03/22/2021), New Business restrictions are in place for American Platinum Property and Casualty Commercial Residential Program.  No new business will be written until further notice.
  • AM Best Tower Hill Prime Insurance Company from “A-” to “B++” in December.

 

In response to these notable changes and sudden shift in demand for replacement or supplemental Florida condominium capacity, many of the carriers that remain active and viable in the Florida condominium space have upwardly adjusted their pricing, deductible requirements and/or underwriting guidelines, while sometimes simultaneously limiting the line size they are comfortable dedicating to any single placement.

While each upcoming Florida condo renewal result will stand on its own based on the individual characteristics of the account, rate increases in the 15% to 25%+ range are now commonplace in situations where the expiring program structure remains consistent. Older condo construction accounts, those that are being non-renewed, and those placed ground-up last year with no available ground-up solution this year are examples of accounts which may see rate increases well in excess of 25%, with 50% to 75%+ rate increases sometimes in play in such situations for a variety of reasons.

2021 is proving to be a more challenging market than 2020. Many clients are continuing to experience difficult renewals where they are encountering rate increases, deductible changes, and/or reduced coverage from carriers.  As we continue into 2021, you can expect Property rates to continue to climb; social inflation to drive Liability pricing; and the hard market for D&O and Excess Casualty to continue as carrier concerns remain.

Below we break down what you can anticipate for the remainder of 2021, including current renewals.

PROPERTY

Property premiums are on the rise and carriers are utilizing more discipline when underwriting new and renewal business. From increasing rates, higher deductibles to fewer enhancements and stricter underwriting, even the best in class properties are feeling some pressure.

Carriers rely on computer modeling to manage their risk and to ensure rates are adequate. They are paying much closer attention to their models, not only across their books, but across each individually written policy. This means that clients with strong risk profiles and good loss history may be impacted.

  • Double digit rate increases can be expected. Non-CAT property with good loss history may see, on average 5% to 20% rate increases. CAT exposed property with good loss history can expect 15% to 30%+ rate increases. Accounts with poor loss history may see 30% to 60%+ rate increases.
  • Carriers may be looking to increase Wind Deductibles and limit or reduce coverage enhancements.

ANCILLARY (General Liability, Crime, D&O, Umbrella, Excess Liability)

Cyber and privacy issues continue to result in significant litigation, both from a regulatory and class action standpoint. Social inflation has created the most impact and disruption on umbrella and excess liability placements. Concerned with a litigious environment that is favorable to plaintiffs and increasing jury verdicts, carriers are pushing rate increases and tighter underwriting guidelines.

We expect primary and umbrella/excess casualty underwriters to maintain this stance throughout 2021. We are seeing reduced capacity in primary and excess markets. Slip and fall claims combined with high medical costs have served to harden this market, particularly for habitational risks.

  • You can expect to liability rate increases between 2.5% and 15%.
  • Umbrella/Excess Liability rates continue to firm between 10% to 25%.

FLOOD

Flood insurance has been steadily increasing over the past several years and 2021 is no exception. Flood insurance continues to see rate increases which varies by zone (VE, AE, X, etc.), with the percentage depending on the numerous variable risk characteristics of each property. New flood maps are currently being reviewed and associations will need to pay attention as to how any new map changes might affect their premiums. While the overall map changes maybe anywhere from one to two years away from being adopted, it pays to be aware if these proposed maps will benefit your association or if they might negatively impact rates? If so, there are steps that can be taken to “Grandfather” into current maps, if they are more favorable than the proposed ones. We advise discussing this with your agent as each risk is unique.

OTHER INDUSTRY ISSUES & CONSIDERATIONS

Increased submission volume is allowing underwriters to be more selective. They are focusing on profitability and can be selective in what they underwrite.

Solutions in this Challenging Market

Even amidst challenging market conditions, opportunities still exist. Gulfshore Insurance’s association specialists have been successfully insuring and protecting community and condo associations throughout Florida for more nearly 50 years. Our full arsenal of insurance carriers are well-equipped to manage the changing tide of Florida condominium coverage, and we are 100% committed to identifying the very best available combination of pricing, terms, and conditions for your condominium accounts.

If you have any questions, please do not hesitate reach out to your Gulfshore Insurance Client Advisor who can offer assistance. We are here to help.

Gregory Havemeier, CIC, AAI, CIRMS is a Client Advisor and Partner at Gulfshore Insurance specializing in community and condominium associations. Gregory works with a wide range of business clients to deliver strategic risk analysis and guidance. Comments and questions are welcome at ghavemeier@gulfshoreinsurance.com

Gulfshore Insurance is a Naples, Florida based insurance agency specializing in business insurance including liability insurance, property insurance, workers compensation insurance, vehicle insurance, business income interruption insurance, cyber insurance, commercial umbrella insurance, and more. Our insurance and risk management advisors are industry specialists for condominium associations, golf and country clubs, oil and petroleum marketers, construction, landscaping, churches and non-profits, and work comp. Navigating insurance requires an experienced and trusted insurance agent who understands your business risks and exposures. Gulfshore Insurance services Naples, North Naples, Marco Island, Bonita Springs, Fort Myers, Sarasota, Lido Beach, Longboat Key, Bradenton Beach, and Southwest Florida. We have office locations in Naples, Fort Myers, Fort Lauderdale, and Sarasota.

Commercial Lines Community Association and Drone LiabilityRecently, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) released its long-awaited rules on drone operations over people and moving vehicles and night operations. These rules represent almost two years of work in which the FAA considered tens of thousands of comments. Questions regarding safety, property damage, and privacy are forcing community associations to establish clear parameters for their use by unit owners.

As for flying legally, drones need to 1) be registered with the FAA, to the extent required, 2) be operated by an individual duly licensed by the FAA, to the extent required and 3) be flown and utilized only in accordance with the FAA and other applicable governmental requirements. In addition, the FAA now requires that drones must be properly registered and labeled with the registration number. They must only be flown below 400 feet and always within sight of the operator.

As for not disturbing the residents, drones need to 1) be flown within the community in a manner not to interfere with an owner’s reasonable expectation of privacy, 2) not utilized in any fashion to spy or otherwise peer or take pictures into the residence of another owner’s property, 3) not utilized to harass any person with respect to private property or to the Association’s common property and 4) not utilized in a manner to cause injury to person or property.

Currently, commercial use of drones (for example related to real estate agents, roofers, and disaster restoration companies, among others) requires FAA approval. It is critical to make sure that your vendors are in compliance with federal laws and guidelines.

Adoption of Rules and Regulations for drones in your community could go a long way in addressing concerns and questions. Things to consider are:

  • Establishment of designated take-off/landing sites
  • Restriction of hours of use, i.e. only daylight hours, etc.
  • Penalties for violations of those rules and regulations
  • Clarifying that the Association is not liable for any property damage caused by the drones
  • Ensuring that if the user of the drone causes property damage, they are held liable.

 

Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Rules for Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS)/Drones

Keep in mind, the use of drones comes with additional risk. Before implementing any drone usage, the association should consult with its insurance advisor to ensure the association is covered for hazards that can result from the use of drones. Like everything else flying around the sky, drones can crash. Imagine a drone crashing into someone’s house, or a car, or even into a person walking his or her dog. Lawsuits will inevitably follow. The association needs adequate insurance protection against potential liability. Typically, drones are not covered by the General Liability insurance policy, and there is a standard aviation exclusion in most policies. Some policies go as far to have specific “unmanned aircraft” exclusions. There are, however, markets available for Drone Liability policies. You should consult with your insurance advisor to confirm that the association is adequately insured with regard to the risks that may arise as a result of the use of drones.

Joe Thompson is a Client Advisor and Partner at Gulfshore Insurance who specializes in managing risk for community associations and various contractorsComments and questions are welcome at jthompson@gulfshoreinsurance.com

Gulfshore Insurance is a Naples, Florida based insurance agency specializing in business insurance including liability insurance, property insurance, workers compensation insurance, vehicle insurance, business income interruption insurance, cyber insurance, commercial umbrella insurance, and more. Our insurance and risk management advisors are industry specialists for condominium associations, golf and country clubs, oil and petroleum marketers, construction, landscaping, churches and non-profits, and work comp. Navigating insurance requires an experienced and trusted insurance agent who understands your business risks and exposures. Gulfshore Insurance services Naples, North Naples, Marco Island, Bonita Springs, Fort Myers, Sarasota, Lido Beach, Longboat Key, Bradenton Beach, and Southwest Florida. We have office locations in Naples, Fort Myers, Fort Lauderdale, and Sarasota.

Commercial Lines Preventing Slip and Fall Incidents at Your AssociationDid you know slips, trips, and falls are one of the greatest personal injury hazards facing your association? In fact, according to the National Floor Safety Institute, falls are the leading cause of emergency room visits. Any slip, trip, or fall incident brings the potential for your association to be held responsible for that person’s injury. To protect people from painful and potentially deadly injuries and to protect your association from liability and unnecessary claim costs, take action to prevent accidents from occurring in the first place.

If a slip, trip, or fall occurs:

  • Provide assistance
  • Document the event
  • Keep your records in order

 

Responding to the incident:

  • Offer assistance
  • Provide first aid
  • Call for emergency medical assistance, when required
  • Demonstrate understanding and concern for the fallen person
  • As soon as possible, report the incident to appropriate management personnel
  • Do not give assurances that medical bills will be “taken care of”

 

Document the incident:

  • Promptly complete the incident report
  • Complete the form at the incident site as quickly as possible
  • Provide the signed incident form to management
  • Keep a copy of all incident reports
  • Review the incident reports to identify problem areas
  • Correct identified problems
  • Provide a copy to your insurance company

 

Other action plan steps include:

  • Regularly scheduled premises inspections
  • Floor care maintenance records
  • Keep copies of any maintenance agreements with outside vendors

 

Download the Slip and Fall Prevention Checklist

Below are areas of heightened concern for Community Associations that you should pay particular attention to:

  1. Outdoor Surfaces: Outdoor surfaces, such as parking lots, sidewalks, and walkways, are one of the leading areas for slip and fall injuries. Rain often makes these areas slippery and dangerous.
  2. Steps and Stairs: Steps and stairs pose a slip and fall hazard for several reasons, and falls down stairs are often more severe. Steps can become worn over time due to heavy use and be a serious trip and fall hazard. Carpeted stairs can become torn over time and create serious trip hazards as well.
  3. Pool Decks: Pool decks are a dangerous area due to the large amounts of moisture, slicks floors, and minimal footwear.
  4. Locker Rooms: Locker rooms are dangerous, like pool decks, due to the slippery conditions. Locker rooms are also dangerous due to clothes, bags, and towels that can clutter up the floor and cause trip and fall injuries.
  5. Entryways: These high-traffic areas are also an extremely common place for slip and fall injuries to occur. Due to the high amount of foot traffic, water and debris are consistently tracked in by shoes making the area slippery.

Jeff Sanders, works with associations and companies throughout the state of Florida to meet their insurance and risk management service needs. Jeff and his team have a proactive style and hands on approach to providing insurance services to their clients. Not only is Jeff a commercial property and casualty specialist, he also holds a TRIP designation, is a member of the Community Association Institute (CAI), Hospitality Financial & Tech Professionals (HFTP) association, and Community Owners – Managers – Associates (COMA). Jeff is also a certified Continuing Education instructor for the community management and construction industries. Comments and questions are welcome at jsanders@gulfshoreinsurance.com

Gulfshore Insurance has been successfully insuring and protecting Community Associations throughout Florida for more nearly 50 years, and currently insure over 700 community and condominium associations throughout the state. We are committed to identifying your specific exposures; developing strategies to handle those risks; implementing insurance programs and coverages to meet your needs; and continuing to monitor and adjust your plan to ensure a perfect fit with your association. Contact us today for assistance with any insurance or risk management concerns.

Commercial Lines What You Need to Know About Policy ExclusionsChoosing the appropriate insurance products for an association often involves a lengthy review process with many facets that require your attention. One overlooked detail can adversely impact the association both legally and financially.

All property insurance policies contain exclusions. An exclusion is a policy provision that eliminates coverage for some type of risk. Exclusions narrow the scope of coverage provided by the insuring agreement.

Insurance policies have exclusions for several reasons, including:

  • For Catastrophic Risks – A standard insurance policy does not typically cover catastrophic risks, such as wind, or wind driven rain, but sometimes coverage is available through an endorsement, or a separate policy.
  • To Reduce Duplicate Coverage – Insurance companies want to avoid the confusion of determining which policy should cover which loss. Some exclusions are designed to help clarify those differences.
  • To Keep Premiums Reasonable – Excluding perils not faced by the average customer helps insurance carriers control premiums. If you require more unique coverages, you can usually eliminate some exclusions by purchasing endorsements at an additional cost.

Boards should look carefully at the exclusions for each insurance policy and consider additional coverage to mitigate any gaps or deficiencies. In doing so, it is critical to work with an insurance agency that specializes in condominium association insurance and can offer the necessary resources and expertise.

Boards and managers should periodically initiate an outside review of their association’s insurance program.  The review should include an exclusions analysis to identify exposures that are not covered. Although it is impossible to mitigate all risk, being educated and understanding potential exposures is key to making informed decisions on coverage.

If you are interested in a review of your association’s insurance program, please contact a trusted client advisor at Gulfshore Insurance. We insure over 700 associations throughout Florida, offering professional service from experienced and knowledgeable personnel who specialize in associations and understand their unique exposures.

Joe Thompson is a Client Advisor and Partner at Gulfshore Insurance who specializes in managing risk for community associations and various contractorsComments and questions are welcome at jthompson@gulfshoreinsurance.com

Commercial Lines 2020 Insurance Market Update for AssociationsFor many associations, insurance premiums are the largest overhead cost, so it’s very important to accurately forecast any changes. Each year, we review market conditions and trends that may impact your insurance renewal premiums, providing you with an educated look at how they may impact your association’s budget.

2020 is proving to be the most challenging market our industry has faced in years. Many clients are experiencing difficult renewals where they are encountering rate increases, deductible changes, and/or reduced coverage from carriers. In addition, the magnitude of COVID-related losses and the impact facing the insurance industry is unknown.

As we continue through 2020, you can expect Property rates to continue to climb; social inflation to drive Liability pricing; and the hard market for D&O and Excess Casualty to continue as carrier concerns remain.

We are breaking down what you can anticipate for the remainder of 2020, including current renewals, as you begin the budget planning process for 2021.

Property
Property premiums generally are on the rise and carriers are utilizing more discipline when underwriting new and renewal business. From increasing rates, higher deductibles to fewer enhancements and stricter underwriting, even the best in class properties are feeling some pressure.

Carriers rely on computer modeling to manage their risk and to ensure rates are adequate. They are paying much closer attention to their models, not only across their books, but across each individually written policy. This means that clients with strong risk profiles and good loss history may be impacted.

  • Double digit rate increases can be expected. Non-CAT property with good loss history may see, on average 5% to 20% rate increases. CAT exposed property with good loss history can expect 15% to 30%+ rate increases. Accounts with poor loss history may see 30% to 60%+ rate increases.
  • Carriers may be looking to increase Wind Deductibles and limit or reduce coverage enhancements.

 

Ancillary (General Liability, Crime, D&O, Umbrella, Excess Liability)
Cyber and privacy issues continue to result in significant litigation, both from a regulatory and class action standpoint. Social inflation has created the most impact and disruption on umbrella and excess liability placements. Concerned with a litigious environment that is favorable to plaintiffs and increasing jury verdicts, carriers are pushing rate increases and tighter underwriting guidelines.

We expect primary and umbrella/excess casualty underwriters to maintain this stance throughout 2020.

We are seeing reduced capacity in primary and excess markets. Slip and fall claims combined with high medical costs have served to harden this market, particularly for habitational risks.

  • You can expect to liability rate increases between 2.5% and 15%.
  • Umbrella/Excess Liability rates continue to firm between 10% to 25%.

 

Flood
Flood insurance has been steadily increasing over the past several years and 2020 is no exception.  Flood insurance continues to see rate increases which varies by zone (VE, AE, X, etc.), with the percentage depending on the numerous variable risk characteristics of each property. New flood maps are currently being reviewed and associations will need to pay attention as to how any new map changes might affect their premiums.  While the overall map changes maybe anywhere from one to two years away from being adopted, it pays to be aware if these proposed maps will benefit your association or if they might negatively impact rates?  If so, there are steps that can be taken to “Grandfather” into current maps, if they are more favorable than the proposed ones.  We advise discussing this with your agent as each risk is unique.

Other Industry Issues & Considerations
Increased submission volume is allowing underwriters to be more selective. They are focusing on profitability and can be selective in what they underwrite.

If you have any questions, please do not hesitate reach out to your Gulfshore Insurance Client Advisor who can offer assistance. We are here to help.

Gregory Havemeier, CIC, AAI, CIRMS is a Client Advisor and Partner at Gulfshore Insurance specializing in community and condominium associations. Gregory works with a wide range of business clients to deliver strategic risk analysis and guidance. Comments and questions are welcome at ghavemeier@gulfshoreinsurance.com