RIMS Study: Fiduciary Liability Costs Soar

By Caroline McDonald

NU Online News Service, Aug. 1, 10:41 a.m. EDT?The premium cost of fiduciary liability insurance, including coverage for trust and pension fund trustees and corporate directors and officers, is up as much as 150 percent, according to the Risk and Insurance Management Society.

The organization on Wednesday released the Benchmark Survey, an industry study of commercial insurance market conditions. It also found that the number of policies required by risk managers to meet some insurance needs is not changing and the cost of property insurance seems to be leveling.

Many of the insurance coverage packages that are constructed are a function of needing, in some cases, hundreds of millions of dollars of capacity, Christopher Mandel, RIMS vice president, chief risk officer and secretary told National Underwriter.

Those deals, he said, have for the past few years involved many more providers and underwriters than in the past. The fact that the number of policies written has leveled off is an indication that reduced capacity per provider has leveled off as well, he said.

For example, with a $200 million program of directors & officers or errors and omissions, “you might need a dozen or more providers to get to that total amount of coverage, in as much as it’s tough to get many players to put up $10 million these days.”

He said that in the future fewer providers may be required.

“On the other side of the coin,” he noted, “property [insurance] has shown a significant leveling off and in some cases a decline. After the two years since 9/11 [2001] that’s long overdue,” he added. “We’ve got a long way to get back to where we were.”

The typical response to higher premiums by risk managers is restructuring of their programs, and “maybe taking more appropriate levels of risk than they have done in the past,” he said.

“Let’s face it, in a soft market, why not transfer that risk away from yourself if it’s highly affordable? In a hard market it’s a much more difficult issue, it forces a lot of discipline into our lives that may not always be there in terms of how much risk you can really retain and how much appetite for risk you might really have, depending on what line of coverage we’re talking about,” he said.

Mr. Mandel added that on a practical level, “when you have to deal with so many more providers, getting the deal done is much more time consuming.”

The market conditions for the survey were summarized by Advisen Ltd., according to the New York-based RIMS.

Advisen, a provider of specialized information, analytic and benchmarking tools for insurance professionals, analyzes the survey results continuously, offering a dynamic and virtually real-time window into the current purchase patterns in the commercial insurance markets. The results represent data compiled from more than 750 corporations to date, RIMS said.

“In the past, risk managers had limited visibility into changing market conditions, but with the ability to capture information in real-time, the RIMS Benchmark Survey is providing increased insight and value to risk managers,” said Thomas P. Ruggieri, chief executive officer of Advisen in a statement.

“This kind of on-demand information for the insurance industry represents a shift in how professionals interpret and react to market conditions,” he said.

Mr. Ruggieri noted, “As insurers try to mitigate the risk of lawsuits against pension fund trustees whose portfolio values have been ravaged by underfunding, questionable loans to sponsor organizations, corporate scandal, bankruptcy and an anemic economy, the fear of a tidal wave of litigation, similar to the trend in securities litigation, is driving up premiums for this line of insurance coverage by as much as 150 percent.”

He said that policy data produced by the survey also indicates that fiduciary liability retentions have increased by as much as 500 percent since 2002.

Directors and officers liability insurance also continues to rise, with premiums up over 200 percent against last year, according to RIMS. The survey data shows that D&O premiums continue to show extraordinary increases for the third straight year.

Other insurance categories, which have been experiencing accelerated costs over the last months, continue to see low double-digit growth, while some costs, like retentions or deductibles in property insurance, remained unchanged.