Insurance Marketplace Realities 2024 – Architects and engineers
November 9, 2023
Adverse severity claim trends reported by most professional liability (PL) carriers continue without any signs of improvement. Social inflation is being cited as the primary driver.
Rate predictions: Architects and engineers
+5% to +10%
Project specific professional liability
+10% or more
Flat to +5%
+5% to +15%
+5% to +15%
Flat to +10%
Flat to +10%
Continued volatility in the A&E professional liability marketplace is expected in 2024, most notably in the form of rate increases, capacity constraints and a reduction in PL carriers’ appetite for specific risks.
A&E PL insurers are making a concerted effort to push for higher deductibles/self-insured retentions (SIR) over the last 12-24 months. Most underwriters would now like to see deductibles/SIRs at .5% of the A&E firm’s gross revenues. These are above the average rate for the last 20 years.
While some A&E PL insurers are indicating premium increases across their entire book of business to offset claim severity trends, certain insurers are taking a strategic underwriting approach that will target high-risk projects or specific market segments. Third-party bodily injury claims on large infrastructure projects remain a difficult risk to manage, and some carriers have reduced their appetite for risks that take on these exposures.
While restriction in capacity was limited to select insurers in 2022 and 2023, additional carriers are starting to follow suit to limit their exposure to increased claim severity trends. Most carriers are offering A&E PL limits up to $5 million; however, the number of carriers providing coverage up to $10 million is limited. Decreased capacity has created a need for additional limits through excess carriers at an additional cost.
Firms can expect an increase in cost to insure single projects by securing specific job excess (SJX) coverage and/or project specific professional liability (PSPL). Consult with your insurance broker to determine all options and potential costs well in advance of start of construction.
Some A&E PL insurers are concerned about the constriction in the PSPL market on large projects because of increased claim activity surrounding design-build exposures — specifically public infrastructure projects with fixed price contracts and third-party BI exposures. In the event PSPL coverage is not available or cost prohibitive, these project exposures would bring heightened exposures to the A&E PL insurers’ underlying PL policies.
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.
Claim severity trends continue and are the primary driver for rate increases in 2023. Insurers note social inflation, including rising claim costs, a backlog of litigation, length of time to settle, supply chain disruptions and the rise in bodily injury claims as primary factors.
Claim severity is expected to continue in 2024. Social inflation continues to be recognized as a leading contributor to the increase in claim severity fueled by aggressive plaintiffs’ bar and concerning trend of litigation financing.
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.
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.
Design firms need to maintain a strong focus on risk management. WTW A&E has created several risk management education programs to help our clients address these emerging risks and minimize their exposure to costly claims and client disputes; including our Four Cornerstones webinar and OnDemand programs which will be included as a four-part series for ACEC in 2023.
For more information on our WTW A&E education offerings, please visit the WTW A&E Education Center where you can find information on our webinars, on-demand programs or listen to our our Talk To Me About A&E podcast.
The A&E cyber insurance market sees signs of relief.
While the cyber market is still in its infancy, the large rate increases that were driven by high claim frequency and severity have started to stabilize.
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, WTW A&E
Architects and Engineers Center of Excellence