Skip to main content
main content, press tab to continue
Survey Report

Insurance Marketplace Realities 2023 – Middle market

December 1, 2022

The middle market segment continues to stabilize and, in some areas, has improved for buyers in capacity and rate.
Financial, Executive and Professional Risks (FINEX)
Rate predictions: Middle market
  Trend Range
Favorable risks
Property Increase (Purple triangle pointing up) +5% to +10%
General liability Neutral increase (yellow line, purple triangle pointing up) Flat to +5%
Auto Increase (Purple triangle pointing up) +5% to +10%
Workers compensation Neutral decrease (yellow line, purple triangle pointing up) -5% to flat
Umbrella Neutral increase (Purple triangle pointing up) Flat to +5%
Excess Neutral increase (Purple triangle pointing up) Flat to +5%
Challenging risks
Property Increase (Purple triangle pointing up) +15% to +20%
General liability Increase (Purple triangle pointing up) +5% to +10%
Automobile Increase (Purple triangle pointing up) +10% to +15%
Workers compensation Increase (Purple triangle pointing up) +5% to +10%
Umbrella Increase (Purple triangle pointing up) +10% to +20%
Excess Increase (Purple triangle pointing up) +10% to +20%

Marketplace overview

  • A two-tiered market still exists but to a lesser degree. The marketplace continues to carefully manage capacity, increase rates and issue non-renewals on challenging accounts.
  • Social inflation, accurate property valuations and supply chain issues continue to be a main concern for insurance carriers and are driving greater scrutiny in the underwriting process and on capacity deployment.
  • Carriers have high retention and growth goals and are aggressive in keeping accounts out of the market. Marketing efforts on clean accounts are resulting in significant rate reductions for insureds. The industries viewed as desirable include financial institutions, professional services, manufacturing (light or loss-free), technology, commercial real estate and life sciences.
  • Insureds with notable losses and heavy cat exposures and those in certain industry segments are considered difficult risks. The tougher classes of business continue to be habitational, transportation, healthcare, social services, hospitality, food and foundries.
  • The property market has improved in rate and capacity, but there is still volatility for challenged occupancies, CAT exposed portfolios and schedules with valuation concerns. Renewal outcomes for these risks can be particularly uncertain when facultative reinsurance is needed.
  • Additional capacity is being reinstated by umbrella and excess markets to gain a competitive edge.
  • As more businesses continue to become fully operational post-COVID, both exposures and loss activity have increased, particularly in some industries, lending themselves to further underwriting scrutiny.


  • Property valuations have been a major area of concern for markets given inflation and supply chain challenges. Corrective action is being taken via rate, increased values and coverage wording, such as specific limits or margin clauses.
  • Contingent business income continues to see tighter underwriting guidelines and reduced limits.
  • Cat capacity and deductible levels continue to be scrutinized and re-evaluated, and risks with heavy exposure (coastal, earthquake, flood, wildfires, wind) have become harder to place.
  • Additional exclusions for strikes, riots and civil commotion are being seen on some hospitality, public entity, retail and real estate accounts.
  • Water damage coverage is experiencing higher deductibles and lowered sub-limits, and water damage mitigation is a focus.
  • Underwriters continue to seek accurate and complete COPE information, including age of roof.
  • Tougher property risks that were once written on a 100% single-carrier basis are being pushed to shared/layered programs due to their risk profile and the markets’ unwillingness to deploy their full capacity.
  • Convective storm deductibles are being added in states that previously did not have them; elsewhere these deductibles are being increased.
  • Loss control visits are more frequently required prior to quoting.
  • Affirmative cyber peril exclusions and communicable disease exclusions are being applied on property policies.

General liability

  • We see heightened concern surrounding human trafficking exposures for hospitality and real estate accounts.
  • Sexual abuse and molestation coverage continues to face capacity reductions and scrutinized underwriting, particularly given reviver laws in several states.
  • Most markets are no longer considering uncapped per-location aggregates.
  • Communicable disease exclusions are still being included and can be removed with additional information regarding safety protocols.
  • PFAS exclusions are becoming more prevalent and increased scrutiny is expected. Some carriers are willing to remove with confirmation of no exposure; however, others are taking a more stringent approach. This is an emerging topic and carriers are concerned about the potential for class-action suits and the cost to defend.
  • With ongoing social inflation, markets struggle to accurately project losses, pushing them to take an all-lines approach to accounts rather than have a liability-heavy portfolio.


  • Mono-line auto risks are extremely challenging to place and should always be leveraged with other lines of business.
  • Livery and ride-share exposures have become mandatory exclusions.
  • Hired and non-owned auto continues to be heavily underwritten and higher exposure accounts are less desirable.
  • Upward pressure on rates has continued as losses in the industry have increased despite fewer drivers on the road in recent years.

Workers compensation

  • Infectious disease-related exposures are closely underwritten.
  • Remote working has created questions surrounding accurate payroll reporting, especially in monopolistic states as coverage needs to be purchased through the state pools.
  • Carriers are requiring details regarding return-to-work policies as they impact rating, terrorism capacity and risk control. More underwriting scrutiny can be anticipated on accounts with exposures in tougher jurisdictions.
  • The market continues to view workers compensation as a profitable line and looks to balance books of business by writing more of it.

Umbrella and excess liability

  • Higher attachment points are being required by lead markets on both general liability and auto policies for higher risk industry. In these scenarios, buffer layers are being introduced more often.
  • Capacity for lead umbrellas has stabilized and reductions in limits have become less common.
  • Supported leads tend to be more competitive as carriers leverage the primary lines with their umbrella capacity. In these competitive scenarios, insureds have been able to secure increased umbrella limits, undoing retractions they may have faced in recent years.
  • Risk purchasing groups continue to be inconsistent, with increased underwriting, appetite changes, reduced capacity, large increases and market participation changes.
  • Clients continue to review contractual requirements and limits purchased.
  • Abuse and molestation, assault and battery, and sex trafficking exclusions are being added, or coverage and capacity have been limited — especially where exposures are apparent.
  • Minimum premiums have increased significantly, driving higher costs for excess layers.


Willis Towers Watson hopes you found the general information provided in this publication informative and helpful. The information contained herein is not intended to constitute legal or other professional advice and should not be relied upon in lieu of consultation with your own legal advisors. In the event you would like more information regarding your insurance coverage, please do not hesitate to reach out to us. In North America, Willis Towers Watson offers insurance products through licensed entities, including Willis Towers Watson Northeast, Inc. (in the United States) and Willis Canada Inc. (in Canada).


Krista Cinotti
Head of Middle Market and Select, North America

Beth Cohon
Head of Middle Market Industry and Broking Strategy

Deb Prince
Western U.S. Middle Market Broking Leader

Contact us