You need to be more prepared than ever based off the past renewal cycle. Host Julie Groves hosts guests with three perspectives to help prepare you as you head into 2023 renewals. Get tips on to get ahead of the work, gain perspectives on where the market is today, hear about current conditions that may influence your coverage including one perspective on their experience with auto policy coverage.
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Consigning under-insurance to history | Zurich Insurance
Karen Kruppa- Chief Risk Officer, Suffolk University
Amy Daley - Client Executive, Education Practice, Fred C. Church Insurance
Timothy McLees Jr.- Property Underwriter, Zurich
Julie Groves-Director, Risk Services, Wake Forest University
Julie Groves: Hi everyone, welcome to URMIA Matters. I'm Julie Groves, the director of risk services at Wake Forest University, and I'm also the current URMIA president. Today we're going to be talking a little bit about the 2023 property insurance market. Regardless of when your property renewal falls, you've likely encountered challenges in the past due to the market. So, in order to help our members be a bit more prepared this year, we're going to share some anecdotes and suggestions we hope will be helpful to everyone. So, with me today are Karen Kruppa, the chief risk officer at Suffolk University, Tim McLees, property underwriting manager for New England at Zurich Insurance, and Amy Daley, client exec in the education practice at Fred C. Church. So, welcome everyone, thanks for being here today. So, before we start the conversation, I want to let everybody take a minute to introduce themselves. So, Karen, why don't we start with you?
Karen Kruppa: Thanks Julie. Hi everyone, my name is Karen Kruppa and as Julie mentioned, I'm the chief risk officer at Suffolk University and Suffolk University is located in downtown Boston, Boston, MA, and I am coming at this from a mid-size school and very small department perspective, of just myself and three others that comprise business continuity and environmental health and safety.
Julie Groves: And Karen was previously on the URMIA board. One of my favorite past URMIA board members, so thank you for all that you do for URMIA, Karen.
Karen Kruppa: Thank you.
Julie Groves: OK Tim, what about you?
Tim McLees: Sure, Tim McLees here, also based in Boston, MA at Zurich Insurance Group on the property underwriting manager for Zurich in New England and Upstate New York. Work with brokers and higher ed customers throughout that territory. I've been in Zurich for 13 years, all working in large commercial property insurance during that time had some six years of that as a risk engineer doing loss control, loss prevention, and seven plus years on the underwriting and underwriting management side for commercial property, just.
Julie Groves: Well, you you must be very smart.
Tim McLees: Well, you know like many of us, I'm a property nerd. You know being based in New England, you get to see a lot of the history of some of these old colleges that are up here. But you know, you get the old, the new, and you know it's always fun to just dig into it, no matter how you look at.
Julie Groves: Well, great, well welcome, and last but not least, Amy Daley. And why don't you tell everybody what's going on with you? I think you've had a job change and some of our members may not know about that, so tell us what's going on with that?
Amy Daley: Thanks Julie. Hi, I'm Amy Daley here and I am a brand-new client exec at Fred C Church Insurance which is a broker in the suburbs. Not in Boston, but in the suburbs of Massachusetts they've been around for over 150 years and I'm super excited to join their education practice. As I said, I'm new to Fred C Church, but I spent the last 13 years at FM Global. You know, large property carrier that had significant focus on higher education, and before that I was a reinsurer that helped reinsure some of the tougher property risks at FM Global, so really appreciate talking about, you know property today, this really important topic right now in the market.
Julie Groves: And you have a lot of sounds like you have a wide range of property experience as well from your past so well, this should be an a very interesting discussion and I hope it will be helpful for everyone. So why don't we dive in? And Karen, why don't you first just give us a high-level overview of suffix property profile, so we understand when you have your renewal? Sort of what you're working with.
Karen Kruppa: Yeah, absolutely. So, we are midsize university in both building size and student count. We have about 12 buildings that are spread out geographically around parts of the downtown area of Boston with no true technical non-building campus. Our campus is buildings and sidewalk belonging to the City of Boston. Between it because of its location and the historic value and nature of the buildings, you know our statement of values is in excess of of $1 billion. And we also in addition to our our downtown Boston location and the 12 buildings, we also have a campus in Madrid, Spain that we are tasked with ensuring for the property aspect as well, of course, you know the liabilities so that is a little bit about Suffolk.
Julie Groves: And do you all have any really historic buildings as a part of your campus, or are they all sort of newer buildings?
Karen Kruppa: No, we're more with the older and historic buildings. We do have two pretty recent, recent for Boston, construction, which was helpful, and we can talk about later when looking at sort of replacement cost values in Boston. But yeah, we're dealing with a combination. So, to Tim's point during the introduction, the weather and the old historic it spells an interesting mix when you're thinking about property insurance and loss prevention and claims.
Julie Groves: So, tell us how did last year's renewal go for you?
Karen Kruppa: So not as bad as some others that I spoke with, but I think a lot of that was willingness to accept that we needed to make some changes, and historically we have a very risk adverse attitude. And we would insure to the full level of our statement of values and we would probably over insure on our business interruption and as we were watching and we knew that the market was hardening and it was going to become increasingly more expensive, we had to take some steps and some of the steps that we took was recognizing that we would need to put our property out of out to market, which we actually did the year before, right in the height of lockdown in Boston from COVID, which was an interesting experience all around for myself and the property carriers. Trying to tour buildings and do all of that, but it was the first step in really looking at OK realigning ourself with the best rate and then we started looking at maximum probable loss, which is something we never ever looked at before and had to do a lot of education to my stakeholders internally as to why that isn't a bad thing and that it is an appropriate cost saving measure that's not putting us in undue amounts of risk, so we had to have some tough conversations internally, and we had to really look at the numbers and just one other point before I turn it back over it was interesting for me because we have a very small auto fleet and I would have always said hey what does auto insurance have to do with property? Well, apparently everything when you don't have a large auto fleet and you're relying on the property carrier to provide you with a business auto policy. That was really challenging because we had some great quotes coming in on the property side where the auto just wouldn't wasn't appropriate. It was super expensive or things that we could not accomplish or attain in loss prevention. And one carrier that just didn't even offer any auto. So, we had to cross them off the list altogether. So it was that was something that I don't think I fully appreciated heading into it, and I think I wish I knew that a little bit more to manage everyone's expectations, including my own.
Julie Groves: Well and just. I mean from my own past experience our auto and property are insured by the same carrier. And in the past when we've gone to market to your point, we found great, you know. I mean, we, we found really good rates at other carriers, but people would not. They just didn't want our auto fleet by itself, and we have several 100 vehicles, so it's not a small fleet, but it's not something that that I think carriers are really that interested in doing as a standalone, it seemed like to me at the time. So, Tim from your unique perspective as an underwriter, how do you think last year's renewal went?
Tim McLees: Yeah, well, I mean just speaking generally about what we're seeing in the property marketplace right now. You know you have a lot of different factors kind of converging and making this sort of hard market in the property space, and this can be for any higher educational institution is going to be facing carriers that have a lot of the same goals. Because you know, natural disasters are increasing, frequency, severity. They're happening all over the country. You have something we're going to get into I think a lot more today, you know inflation trends and what that means for replacement cost values and claims costs. You have kind of, you know, Amy mentioned she used to be on the reinsurance side. You have the impact of what's happening in the reinsurance market and what that means for property capacity on the front end for some of these programs, so you know a lot of the things that were challenges in 2022, you know, I gotta just say it, they're gonna continue to kind of be driving factors in 2023. You know, can can talk all day about the Nat Cat impact, you know engineering and loss prevention that you know. That was my background, personally and, you know whether you have an old dorm renovation going on or building a new state-of-the-art, you know, student center, getting kind of those engineering loss control aspects, correct? Is it's top of mind for the carriers as well, so you know this is all stuff that in the hardening property market is coming to the forefront and what a risk manager needs to be paying attention to you know, reaching out across their organization. You know across you know, maybe you need to be working more with your facilities people to get updated cost amounts of a new project. You know, you definitely should be working with your EH and S folks. As you know, Karen says she does regularly, so you know that stakeholder engagement. As a risk manager, is all the more important with a lot of these trends that are influencing property coverage.
Julie Groves: Well, Amy, what about from your perspective, how did last year go?
Amy Daley: Well, first, I'll start with I love what Tim said about the stakeholder engagement and just having a really deep bench of risk management for your institution. You know from senior leadership all the way to wherever EHS facilities whatever, because you know the perception of higher Ed in the property market right now is not great like let's be honest. So, what we're doing at Fred C. Church is really trying to help our clients you know understand where they are, what they need to do, you know to be proactive and to plan for risk management. You know we're dealing with old buildings, old equipment, old cities, middle Boston you're talking about, you know property claims are just kind of waiting to happen, and the sheer size of these campuses and buildings just make it a lot to stay on top of so you know you have an opportunity as a risk manager to plan to under identify your risk, you know, address that risk, mitigate and then be able to articulate and convey, you know your story to the market and hopefully you know everything will improve, but yeah, it's been a tough, active market. I won't say that again.
Karen Kruppa: You know, actually I. I wanted to just sort of kind of go back on the the sort of depth and breadth of stakeholder conversations I found. One of the best things that I realized just firsthand in being a risk manager. During this we saw this property market hardening down the road right like even before it hit us, we knew it was coming. We knew why. I mean it was, everybody knew why it is just with all the the driving factors and so yearly to my internal the board of trustees, the audit committee, I do a sort of state of the insurance state of our insurance, you know what we're looking at, and I always make a point of having trends to watch, and areas where it has hit everybody but us, so trust and believe and so I yeah.
Amy Daley: Get ready, yes.
Karen Kruppa: Yes, and I started educating them on the concept of property, hard markets and soft markets and thinking of your property in not a single year premium over premium but looking at it sort of over a spread of seven years, eight years, because you wanted to account and allow for the market fluctuations and so you can't rest on a rate and then not expect at some point as the market shifts and it hardens, that it's not going to have a huge jump. So, by having those conversations, you know with the board well in advance and I actually had I had to go back and look- I started harping on this three years before it actually became a reality. And so, when I actually presented and said look this is what we did. We cut our limits, we changed this, but we're not putting ourselves at risk and here's why because our rates were so favorable before. That's why we could ensure the entire statement of values. But in reality, did it really make sense? So, explain, explain to them. You know how the market sort of impacted us as a book of business, and I think that it was easier for them to understand and accept. So instead of seeing just this huge premium increase and not understanding it, they were prepared, they knew, and they understood why it was happening and they also think of it in a, you know, eight-year span or a 10-year span.
Julie Groves: Yeah, I think communication is key because you know what I, I did something similar. I mean, I tried to start very early last year with communication saying, hey, this looks like this is going to happen. This is what we need to expect. We need to think about this, and you know it makes it, it's never just easy to swallow sometimes, but it makes it a little easier to swallow if people have a heads up about it. So, I think that's a great, you know piece of advice and you know back in the day you know we used to, I at least could say, well, you know we're not on the coast. We don't have any catastrophic exposure. We're going to be fine, but that isn't the case anymore, right? So, I mean, you know it doesn't matter where your campus buildings are located now, everyone's being affected by. This so any kind of planning and communication you can do ahead of time is great. So, Tim, you already sort of alluded to the fact that what we saw last year isn't going to be getting any better as far as you know, the hardening of the market. I mean, if you gotten any indication that it's going to be getting worse before it gets better? Or do you think it's going to be kind of holding where it is?
Tim McLees: You know, I think you know. So, in the last few years have seen the property carrier sort of look at, you know, the underwriting of their book, whether they had to write less natural catastrophe risks, whether they needed their pricing to be higher, and their rates to be higher, whether some of the deductibles needed to be changed to get rid of those attritional claims, you know. All of that stuff I think has been, you know, done to try to help them bring their property books to a profitable level. I think what's the biggest factor right now I'm going to continue into 2023 is, you know, the inflation that we're seeing across the world, you know, let alone in the US and let alone, you know, fixing your property if it gets damaged, you know the material costs the labor cost to fix stuff, the time delays to source building materials, whether it's a major project or a tiny project, the cost of that stuff are all up, you know, so some of these kind of statements of values which are really the the starting point for the underwriters to kind of dig into the risk you know are under the spotlight. Especially if you know, we talked to the risk management people and we say, you know, tell us where you got these values from, you know, tell me the, you know the process you use to establish them. Tell me the process you use to update and monitor them to make sure they’re adequate and you know I typically see two types of responses to that you either have somebody who has an answer to that. Oh yeah, we have a process, here's how we did it and that can lead to a very constructive, thoughtful conversation where the underwriter, the broker, the client, are all kind of comparing notes and OK, this makes sense talking about the stakeholder engagement. You reached out to your facilities person who just got a construction bid for that new tower. And now we we know what the cost per square foot is to build that right? That's gonna be so constructive to be looking into stuff like that before you get to your renewal versus you know and this isn't to say that if you don't have a plan, all is lost, but if you don't know where your SOV came from right, maybe you're new in your role or, you know you acquired some buildings downtown and they got rolled in? You know the underwriter is gonna, you know, look to benchmark those against some other figures, right? So, this is all kind of an evolution of that process. You wanna approach it, I think in a collaborative way, because more information is better than less. Because that that leads to better credibility of these values and you wanna have the underwriter have confidence in those when they're quoting your property account. You know so and you know we can circle back to more of the collaboration and communication that should on this, but that's, I think, the number one kind of market dynamic trend to be talking about and paying attention to in 2023.
Julie Groves: Yeah, that's helpful, Amy, you have any thoughts?
Amy Daley: Yeah, you know I love what Tim said and what Karen said too about knowing your risk and being educated on that and being able to communicate that throughout the organization. I totally agree. Value’s probably #1 to focus on another, maybe #1 as well. #1A is the natural catastrophes, and being you know, resilient to climate. And I just saw an article the last couple of days that said that of 29% of the respondents have seen an increase in property claims and more specifically, flood claims, were increased by like 30%, so it's not getting better. So, you know, be resourceful. Use your broker, use your carriers to help you analyze your exposures and try to really mitigate that risk. I think the other two areas I would focus on, so we have values, netcat, I would talk about deferred maintenance and really understand what the deferred maintenance is on your campuses and try to put a priority and you know your biggest vulnerabilities. And get those fixed in advance and be proactive and then last thing is water damage. You know we all see water damage every single day we're seeing, you know more frequency of severity with this and so I think we all have a lot of work to do in that area as well.
Julie Groves: Yeah. Those are all words we're all very familiar with, and so that's really helpful. So, Karen, what kind of strategies helped you last year that people may be able to apply to their, you know renewal this year?
Karen Kruppa: So, to one point that Amy just brought up about understanding with deferred maintenance and what the plan is- we are very transparent with those conversations with underwriters with loss prevention because you know in nonprofit you are on a set fixed budget and so you can't just replace something simply because the LP Rep said, well, I think you should because it will lower your chance. It's like, well, no, we've recognized this. And the engineering report says that this is the lifespan of it. So, it's booked for such and such year. Let's talk about it, if you think that's not appropriate. So, I think it's really understanding what your actual deferred maintenance schedule is, understanding that regular routine maintenance as well for smaller projects really does add up. Another area that I've paid more attention to, especially in a city, and it may not be applicable to the suburban campuses is that there is always the opportunity for subrogation and so being really aware of that. Not only at the time of the incident, but also just in contracts in general, just making sure that you're going the extra mile to make sure that you have the appropriate levels of insurance for anyone you're hiring to come and work that could cause some of our largest claims did come out of harm from caused by someone else and we were, you know, successful in subrogation. So, I think that that is something that we need to, well, it's not directly related to the renewal, it lessens the claims, which then would have a positive impact on that. We were very lucky that we kind of drew a hard line on negotiating a couple year sort of salary salary. Where my mind is at! Negotiating a couple year rate loss so that if we were able to keep our losses down below a certain percent, this was the maximum amount that we could expect, or it would be flat, and so I think that that was really helpful too in thinking about planning and preparing. And also, it builds a good relationship with your insurance carrier as well in knowing that that exists so that there is a clear partnership. So, I think those are some of the strategies. And then of course to the point of valuation- that is huge. I do fear like everybody else does, the mandatory you must have all your buildings appraised statement and as such we try to make sure that if we're doing a new build, whether it be a full construction or we're building out an area, an internal construction that we're actually looking at what that cost per square footage is. Because there are a lot of factors now that are in play that weren't maybe five years or so ago from supply chain issues and just cost of materials. So, we are looking at even the ones we benchmarked over the last five years to a new building we built maybe eight years ago. We are recognizing that while that was good, there are factors that are constraining the construction market and causing costs to go up so that we need to be thinking about reflecting that appropriately. So that is definitely a strategy that that we've been taking. And you know, it's it's sort of not a huge impact on your premium, but it doesn't go without saying that business interruption is interesting, right? Like I think we were all very much more paranoid before COVID about what were we going to do and then we were all forced to operate with under the premise of no access to your campus or limited access to your campus. And so really that whole business interruption has significantly contracted when you think about a total loss of operations. It comes more of like an extra expense type of issue. So, it is interesting staying current and sort of moving along with the changes that are happening in the market as a whole.
Julie Groves: Yeah, to your point, Karen, Wake Forest, we were always trying to be very careful about our business interruption. And we actually didn't really think about that until Katrina, and we took students from Tulane at Wake Forest for the semester that Tulane couldn't open. And we you know at that point, you know, I guess, that really dates me. But at that point, you know we thought oh my gosh. This is going like it's going to be so catastrophic if something like that happens. And to your point, I mean, COVID really showed that yeah, there were certain events and things we couldn't do and there was revenue we lost. But, you know, we were able to kind of keep things afloat so it's a little, I think that's a little reassuring, maybe in a strange way. COVID helped us to understand what we can and can't do a little better.
Karen Kruppa: From sort of thinking about the change in the times one of the the issues that we grappled grappled with that we never thought we would have to before was when we were thinking about during the election cycle, and in the first summer of 2020, and there were a lot of demonstrations that were happening with George Floyd and unfortunately, one of the demonstrations did morph into property destruction long after the demonstration was over, and some you know bad actors took advantage of. But that, but that kind of woke us up to the fact that these are areas that we never thought of. We always think of fire. We think of weather hazards and so we had some minor property damage that came as a result. But we also realized that we had to think about that moving forward. So, when we were getting closer and closer to the election, there was the concern that was happening in cities everywhere about what would the fallout be on either side of the outcome of the election and how were we going to think about withstanding that from a property aspect and we had to have some conversations about do we board up the front of our buildings afterwards, in a preventative fashion? Because we couldn't withstand this, somebody threw like a Molotov cocktail through through one of the windows and sets off the sprinkler. And you know, never mind, we were already on a business continuity plan because of the pandemic, but that was a time where we really were looking at aspects that could impact our property and losses in a in a whole new area that we never saw before. And taking proactive measure. Like the campuses in Florida probably do when they hear of a hurricane coming. So, you know, it's just it is interesting how things have changed.
Julie Groves: How we've learned from other situations that, yeah, you know, we hope we don't ever have to encounter. So, we've talked a little bit about the importance of our value, our statement of values, and, you know, deferred maintenance and partnerships with other campus partners so, Tim or Amy, do you have any other types of suggestions for things that our listeners could do to you, know, prepare for their property renewals renewals for this year?
Amy Daley: If you don't mind Tim, I'll go. I would say you know, number one for me is is just that proactive focus and risk management. You've got insurance but let that be the backup. You know you don't want to have any kind of a disruption. You want to keep your institution operational so that it can, you know really continue its mission at all times. And we all know about those direct damages. You know, repairing, replacing buildings and loss of income. But there's also so many indirects that you just want to avoid like the effects on life safety and on your enrollment, or even on attracting the right faculty or getting the research grants that you want, so everything that you guys have been saying, especially Julie with your idea on communication. That is so key to be able to share your story and have a good story to tell and you'll be in the best place you can possibly be.
Julie Groves: Tim, any thoughts to add?
Tim McLees: Yeah, I mean the communication proactive right? I mean just kind of zeroing in on the whole inflation and values issue, right? Unfortunately, a lot of times that when that's most apparent is when there's a claim going on right, and the cost of this claim seems to be higher than you otherwise might have thought. You know, that's the point when the carrier is gonna start scratching their head about that SOV and saying you know what? This doesn't seem like it's as credible as maybe it should have been. So, you're going to be reacting to that, or you can be proactive to that. You know, Zurich, it has tools. Other carriers have tools. They will publish inflation trend factors. You know your broker is going to be able to point you in the right direction for things like appraisals you know. These appraisals can be very detailed and very granular. But you know, you might also benefit from, you know, just maybe doing one building at a time. It doesn't have to be everything all at once.
Amy Daley: I agree, I agree, yeah.
Tim McLees: So, you know, going on that mission to just kind of tell your story builds confidence in how you're reflecting the risk and and the exposure, and that's going to go a long way.
Julie Groves: I think one of the things that it's seems to be a theme here is that, you know, along with the communication, I think it's a matter of building trust with carrier, right? So, Wake Forest has been with the carrier for a very, very, very, very very very very very long time.
Amy Daley: OK, we're all jealous, Julie, okay? I know, it’s great.
Julie Groves: Well, I I mean we have a great relationship with our carrier, but I think a lot of it is just that we have had all these years to build trust with them and so. So, you know to your point Tim that you made earlier about your statement of values. If your carrier trusts that you have a legitimate method of determining your statement of values, they're not going to question it. You know, as much as you know, a newer carrier that you may not have a relationship with, so you know, I guess maybe what it seems to me would be a pertinent point to add is that you know the newer your relationship with your carrier is just be really proactive about your communication and working to do everything you can to build trust with that carrier, so they get a comfort level with you. You know, and I think your broker can help you with that. I think we really need to lean on our brokers and carriers to help us get resources and help us, you know, find ways to make this process more manageable and less painful. So, do you all have any suggestions for resources that might be helpful for our listeners?
Karen Kruppa: I'd love to give a plug to this past year's annual conference I was a part of, but not as a presenter, more as a moderator, a fantastic panel presentation, What goes up must come down except property values and premium. And it was a unique perspective. We had Mike Domin from Kroll giving sort of a talk through about appraisals and how values are changing and what those drivers are. And then we have Peter Fallon from Risk Strategies and Chris Duble from Fred C. Church, sort of talking about the perspective of the resources available from your broker and what can be done. And giving us as risk managers some tools to go in our toolbox. That one was recorded, and it is available on that conference website. So, you can go in and rewatch it, but I think that you'll get some great tips to prepare for your renewal before it happens.
Julie Groves: Yeah, and we will put a link to that panel in the show notes so that people can, you know, check that out and I think you know, URMIA has other resources that folks can look to for, you know, for help on property renewal, always use our URMIA networks if you have a question, reach out to your you know other folks in URMIA. They may we've all been through this, right? So, there's strength in numbers so we can all do what we can to help. So, do you all have any last-minute things you want to add in before we wrap up our conversation today?
Karen Kruppa: Just wishing everybody a lot of luck. This has been a challenging 5 years to be in this field from every angle and I cannot stress enough learn from each other. URMIA does have great resources even in the form of fellow URMIANS. Talk to fellow risk managers, figure out what worked for them and what didn't. Talk to your brokers. Talk to your underwriters. And just try to realize everybody's on the same team.
Julie Groves: And your last thoughts, Tim?
Tim McLees: Nothing else for me. I mean, yeah, I agree, Karen. Like you know, wishing everybody luck but at the same time, you know, we can achieve good results, you know, without luck being good or bad, right? So, the collaborations key the communications key. You know, I would just say Julie, thank you for having me on to chat about these topics.
Julie Groves: Oh, we're glad you're here and Tim, so would you recommend if we wanted to send our underwriter like M&M's or sort of their favorite snack, does that have any bearing on how our renewal goes if we try to kind of help, you have some good, healthy or not so healthy snacks while you're working on our-
Tim McLees: I don't know. I mean we're coming. This is January, we're coming out of the holidays. You know resolutions and all that.
Julie Groves: You know, my renewal is not until June 30th, so maybe by then the underwriters might want a little snack, so I mean.
Tim McLees: I'll take access to the fitness centers.
Amy Daley: Can I give a Julie? Can I chip in? I have one more little plug for a resource if. You don't mind. Karen, like you, the last annual conference. I did a presentation with Damual Greaves from MIT on a Disaster versus a distraction. You know you want a minor distraction, not a devastating disaster. So, we did a presentation on that. It really kind of focused on more natural catastrophe, but it really talked about fire as well. So, then a lot of other property issues, so I'll plug that one too. Maybe we can pop a link in there to that one. I don't believe it was recorded, but there's a good PowerPoint with a lot of nice solutions to share.
Julie Groves: Yeah, that's great. We'll put a link to the PowerPoint in the show notes. Well, thank you all again so much for chatting with me. It was great to see you and here’s fingers crossed that what goes up must come down eventually for the property market. So, thank you all and this wraps another episode of URMIA Matters.