By Matthew P. Simmons, CIC
Georgetown Insurance Service, Inc.
Silver Spring, MD
2018 has been an interesting year — a year that has left the insurance industry scrambling to construct the right coverages for our country’s evolving needs. As agents, there are a number of trends and pending changes that we are keeping our eyes on in 2019. From sexual harassment to forest fires to self-driving cars, here are six areas to be aware of as the New Year quickly approaches.
Employment Practices Liability Insurance (EPLI) – EPLI covers a wide variety of issues that businesses face in today’s world, we’ll cover a few here that you may, or may not know. With the Baby Boomers still in the workforce, age discrimination is still prevalent. Wrongful termination, where employees feel they were dismissed or felt they had no choice but to resign, have also increased in number. Wage & hour disputes are also a big item; with businesses not fully understanding which of their “white-collar” employees are exempt or non-exempt from over-time. In addition, the #MeToo Movement continued to surge strongly into 2018; allegations submitted to the EEOC were up 12% from FY 2017 (Source). It doesn’t just stop at sexual harassment though, sex-based harassment allegations (including gender bias) are also on the rise. Regardless of whether an allegation is true or not, the litigation process is costly — from both financial and time management stand points. In today’s business world, the question isn’t if you will need EPLI…but mostly likely when.
Workers’ Compensation – As marijuana laws continue to change across the country, Workers’ Compensation carriers have found themselves caught between a rock and a hard place. With some carriers offering credits for drug free work programs, they are working to find ways they can keep these implemented with the changing times. In some states, marijuana has been approved for medicinal use and in a select few, it has even been approved for recreational use. However, all usage is still illegal under federal law. We expect lawsuits and legislation to continue popping up over the course of 2019.
Reactionary Coverages – Due to increasing types of violence that have started to spread across both our country and the world, we are seeing a rise in “reactionary” coverages. These coverages have been created in response to recent events as a way to minimize liability and damages for involved parties. These coverages include Active Shooter Insurance, Terrorism Insurance, and Workplace Violence Insurance. Investors in these policies include entertainers, school districts, and businesses located in high risk areas or those within high risk industries.
Weather Related Coverages – Mother Nature has been anything but predictable this year. From torrential flooding to scorching forest fires, no part of the country seems to have gone unscathed. If this catastrophic weather continues, we can expect to see some changes in home insurance, property, and flood coverages next year. In addition, don’t be surprised if high-risk areas for flooding and fire expand.
Auto Insurance – With self-driving cars being tested in cities around the country, it won’t be long before insurers are forced to reexamine their existing policies. At this time, we’re not sure exactly how this will affect auto rates, but it is something we will be keeping an eye on. While that may seem far away, it may be closer than initially thought. Ford has already announced their intent to test self-driving cars in D.C. in early 2019. In the meantime, don’t be surprised if auto insurance premiums stay the same or even potentially increase due to distracted driving at an all-time high and smart technology causing a rise in the average “fender bender” cost.
Cyber Insurance – It seems that hackers are getting more sophisticated and that new scams are constantly hitting the market. While there is still no one-stop-shop cyber policy, there are a number of additions and endorsements that businesses can add to protect themselves (see our whitepaper for more information). In 2019, we are closely watching the insurance market to see what new cyber coverages pop up and what potential areas of liability new cyber scams expose.
If 2018 has taught us anything, it’s that you can’t predict the future. While we always hope for the best, we recommend preparing for the worst. Too much coverage is always better than not enough. Keep an eye on our blog and social media for the latest developments on these trends and other business insurance topics.