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Navigating a Post-COVID hard to Place Property Market

Jen Frost, of Insurance Business, connected with Jacqueline Tremblay, Agile Underwriting Solutions’ senior commercial underwriter, to discuss trends in the Canadian property insurance market.

The needs of insureds in the property market have shifted somewhat in recent years as the market, already encountering a capacity crunch, faced up to the reality of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Before COVID, available coverage and capacity was becoming much more limited, according to Agile Underwriting Solutions senior commercial underwriter Jacqueline Tremblay.

The managing general agent’s property solutions include cover for apartment and rental properties, as well as vacant risk and builder’s risk.

Positives are emerging as Canada edges closer to something resembling ‘back to normality’, and insureds have been putting in the legwork to get themselves up to par with insurers’ requirements.

“Risk profiles have gotten much better, during and closer to the ‘post’ pandemic era,” Tremblay said.

“With limited coverage and capacity available, insureds have started to focus on making their insurable risk more attractive to insurers.”

However, the market remains challenging.

“Realty and property capacity remain a challenge as there has been continuous reduction in capacity for this segment across much of the standard market,” said Tremblay.

Weather events, such as wildfires, flooding, and the shock May derecho that hit Southern Ontario and Quebec, risk driving up rates in the areas they devastate.

“Year over year, our weather patterns are changing with storms becoming much more destructive, flooding has been at an all-time high in certain areas and wildfire activity is much higher in recent years,” Tremblay said.

“Large catastrophic events such as flooding, and wildfires have always impacted the insurance market. These events will always drive the market to higher rates in some areas and a further reduction of capacity for certain perils.”

Meanwhile clients’ wish lists have grown. Many business interruption (BI) policies did not pay out for COVID-related disruption – and perhaps unsurprisingly, pandemic cover is becoming a ‘must have’ rather than a ‘could have’ for many insurance buyers.

Tremblay said: “COVID has had a big impact on business interruption coverage, as many businesses had to shut down for certain lengths of time, which in turn saw many businesses lose a significant amount of their revenue.

“Unfortunately, many policies did not cover claims due to the impact of COVID shutting down the business. Going forward, insureds are likely to seek coverage for loss of income due to a pandemic.”

MGAs such as Agile, which was named MGA of the year at the 2021 Insurance Business Awards, are on hand to assist with difficult to place underwriting needs.

“We are solutions-oriented and will do all that we can to try and provide the best coverage available,” Tremblay said.

Jacqueline Tremblay has been in the insurance business for 10 years. As senior commercial underwriter at Agile Underwriting Solutions, she has been an integral part of the company’s success in helping Agile’s broker partners find solutions for their clients due to her strong knowledge base in the industry across all our Canadian provinces.