Insurance Marketplace Realities 2023 – Architects and engineers
December 1, 2022
While the overall A&E marketplace is relatively stable, most A&E professional liability carriers have reported an increase in severity of claims.
Rate predictions: Architects and engineers
Flat to +10%
Project-specific professional liability
+25% or more
Flat to +5%
+5% to +15%
Flat to +5%
+5% to +15%
+5% to +15%
+50% to +100%
Professional liability (PL): While the number of available PL carriers remains high, there are a finite number of long-term stable A&E PL markets.
An increased severity in claims has created some restriction in capacity as well as an increased pressure on higher retention levels.
Decreased capacity has created a need for additional limits through excess carriers at an additional cost.
Design firms can expect a greater level of underwriter scrutiny to continue. Firms can expect underwriters to look closely at their commitment to specific risk management practices, including negotiation of fair and insurable contracts and education of their staff on managing A&E PL-related risks.
Insuring single projects
Design firms can expect to pay more for insuring single projects; notably, specific job excess (SJX) and project specific PL (PSPL) due to a hardening PL market and a reduction in available capacity.
We continue to see a decrease in available capacity within the project specific PL market — especially for large civil design-build projects. Some of the leading A&E PL carriers have taken a hard line on these risks in large part due to alternative delivery methods and the use of fixed price contracts with unrealistic pricing and contingencies paired with an imbalance of contractual risk allocation.
We continue to see a push for progressive Design-Build from the underwriters.
Emerging A&E claim trends: In 2022 WTW A&E released a survey of senior claim managers from 12 A&E professional liability carriers. The survey focused on professional liability claim statistics, professional liability claim trends, and emerging A&E risks. An updated survey is currently in process for 2023.
Professional liability claim statistics
The cost and time to settle a PL claim are increasing, with most noting it takes on average two to three years or more to settle a matter.
Most carriers surveyed noted that the overall frequency of A&E PL claims has remained stable; however, we are experiencing a definite upward trend in the severity of claims and an increase in the overall cost to settle matters.
Professional liability claim trends
Condo projects continue to be the frontrunner when it comes to the most “hazardous” project type from the perspective of A&E PL carriers.
Third-party bodily injury claims and design-build/alternative project delivery are the two leading factors behind a continuing trend of severity claims on roads and highway/infrastructure projects.
Emerging A&E risks
Climate change and the evolving standard of care were identified as a leading emerging risk for A&E firms by the leading A&E PL carriers.
Social Inflation has been identified as a contributor to the increase in claim severity. Increased values in verdicts, aggressive plaintiffs’ bar, and concerning trends in reptile theory and litigation financing are fueling this emerging issue.
The A&E cyber insurance market remains difficult.
Increased claim frequency and severity continue to directly impact premiums, capacity and retention levels.
The continued claim activity has kept underwriting scrutiny high; however, firms with proper protocols in place have seen favorable renewals. Start the renewal process early and review underwriting trends with your broker to ensure you have the proper protocols in place.
To help our clients manage the evolving risks associated with cyber liability, WTW A&E has created a Cyber Risk Resource Center to provide thought leadership to the design community and help stay in front of these emerging risks.
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).
Managing Director, Architects & Engineers practice
Dan is the Managing Director of WTW A&E, the specialty division for WTW that is exclusively dedicated to providing insurance and risk management solutions to architects and engineers. Dan and his staff of A&E insurance specialists represent over 500 architectural and engineering firms located across the country and practicing throughout the world. Dan and his team provide tailored risk management services, including contract negotiation, claims advocacy and a wide variety of risk management education workshops. Dan is on the ACEC National Risk Management Committee (RMC) and chairs the Cyber Sub-Committee. Dan is active in ACEC, AIA and other associations that support the design community. Dan speaks frequently and has written and presented on a wide range or risk management topics for architects and engineers.