Carrier Reactions to the Hard Market and Steps Agents Can Take to Persevere During this Tumultuous Time

Looking back on the resilience of the insurance industry this past year, we have experienced rising premiums in the personal and commercial lines of business. Much of these challenges were caused by unprecedented natural disasters, hyperinflation, supply chain issues, labor shortages, a return to pre-pandemic poor driving practices and carrier market exits, to name a few.

The outlook for carriers heading into the end of 2023 and looking forward to 2024 is a reduction in operating costs with an eye on long-term growth. Carriers are dealing with sustained high loss ratios, uncertain investment returns and a hardening reinsurance market.

Therefore, carriers are adjusting new business standards and underwriting guidelines affecting agencies and their books of business. OIA’s advocacy efforts prioritize how these circumstances impact the well-being, profitability, and growth of your agency along with your clients and staff.

As we closely monitor this rapidly evolving situation, we are attempting to compile the collective actions being taken by Ohio based carriers to best position your agency to survive this uncertain time.

In addition to the carrier actions we are all reading about in California, Florida and other coastal areas, we have compiled a recent list of several carriers with updates below and new business underwriting guidelines and, in some instances, the halt of all new business lines. Many carriers are closing their new business appetite to only ultra premium business. Below is a summary of a few recent carrier actions:

Central Insurance: Recently announced changes to their homeowner’s underwriting guidelines. Severe restrictions on new business: No homes over eight years of age will be accepted.

Westfield Insurance:  Expects property hard market going into 2024. Troy Crawford, commercial lines product management leader at Westfield Insurance, which provides business property and liability, personal lines, and agribusiness insurance. “We do expect that in 2024, we’re going to continue to see some of the increases that we’ve been talking about,” he said. “But again, it’s very volatile. We talked about a pending recession and what that might do to the marketplace. So, we are expecting additional volatility as we go forward into 2024.”

Hippo’s: Decision to halt all new business is a drastic move, especially just one week after the company reaffirmed its commitment to profitability by 2024, said Kaenan Hertz, managing partner for Insurtech Advisors LLC. “While many other carriers are also halting new business, they are typically doing so in specific areas or for certain types of policies,” Hertz said. “Hippo’s decision to halt all new business nationwide is more unusual.”

Branch Insurance: CEO Steve Lekas has conducted a round of layoffs, according to a June 8th LinkedIn post. He did not announce the number of employees who were let go but cited “ongoing challenges facing the insurance industry and Branch” as the reasoning behind the decision. Expanded on the challenges that led to the decision in a company-wide email posted to Medium. He pointed to persistent inflation as one of the main drivers, which he said has been “causing significant challenges across the entire insurance landscape.” On top of inflation, he added that Branch has grown faster than its loss ratio.

Kemper: Kemper Insurance is facing the ‘most disrupted personal lines environment’, Kemper president, CEO, and chairman Joe Lacher has seen. Combined with the exit from preferred home and auto, the actions aim to generate cost savings for Kemper and support profitable growth in its specialty auto and life segments. Kemper looks to recover from loss through personal insurance exits and additional initiatives.

Steps agents can take to monitor their books of business internally and be prepared to pivot when necessary:

A. Getting the value right – Why property valuation is more critical than ever

Assessments also offer agents and brokers a key opportunity. Property valuation is the foundation for getting the right coverage and premiums in an insurance policy. In one of the hardest property insurance markets in decades, it’s taken on a critical role in safeguarding insureds from unnecessarily high premiums and ensuring they have adequate coverage, as well as helping insurers understand and manage their risk portfolios. “The industry is very aware of undervaluation right now,” said Brandon Beauregard, property underwriting manager, E&S, Munich Re Specialty Insurance.

B. The Challenges of a Hard Market Impacts 97% of Brokers and Agents

2022 presented plenty of challenges for insurance professionals and policyholders. The ongoing hard market and rising inflation contributed to higher policy rates and claim sizes across industries. As a result, insureds have become more price sensitive and are turning to a broader range of carriers to minimize risk management — and cover more ground with fewer resources.

To better understand these challenges, AmWins surveyed 303 brokers and agents about top insurance industry trends. AmWins releases the 2023 Insurance Trends report, showcasing the challenges of the ongoing hard market and rising inflation.

The findings uncovered key strategies for stakeholders deployed in 2022 and new opportunities for the year ahead. In today’s insurance environment, brokers and agents can be more active in educating clients on policy value, various coverage options, and new opportunities. Insurers must also go the extra mile to help clients tap into a broader range of carriers as policyholders fight back against shrinking capacity and a problematic insurance market in 2023. “In today’s insurance environment, brokers and agents can play a more active role in educating clients on policy value, various coverage options, and new opportunities.”

C. OIA Company Partner Program

OIA is excited to lead the way for independent insurance agents – now and in the future.

We rely on the engagement of our company partnerships to help agencies thrive in today’s competitive marketplace—their support of Ohio’s independent insurance agents through their involvement in our Company Partner program is paramount. The Company Partners’ names are linked to the Introduction page, Appetite Guides, Policy Types Available, and Solutions. It’s not just the OIA team dedicated to helping you, the independent insurance agent. Our Company Partners are committed to ensuring you succeed and grow.

If you have additional questions, contact Dustin Mahrt, OIA’s Company Partner Manager at

Third Quarter Insurance Marketplace Webinar

By the way, be sure to register for our Wednesday Webinar on September 27th, 2023, Noon to 1:00 PM. You’ll get some great insights and updates from Dean Fadel, Paul Buse, Jeff Smith, and Dustin Mahrt. Should be a lively discussion!  You will be able to get some first-hand stats from IACON. To register for the webinar, click here.

Learn to Navigate the Hard Market at IACON23

Pressure continues to build on the P&C insurance markets, and hard market conditions appear likely to extend through the year and beyond. Double-digit rate increases, new underwriting restrictions, and carriers turning off new business are causing significant stress on agency staff and owners.

Be sure to register, IACON23 October 4- 5 as you will not want to miss our session featuring selected Company Partner Representatives that will be available to address the ongoing concerns that are facing all of us! Agents and agency professionals can visit our website for the latest information regarding the conference including agenda, hotel accommodations and of course, reserving your conference tickets!

Register now



Cited Resources

Hippo’s shares tumble amid underwriting pause, difficult Q2’23 for P&C insurers

S&P Global Market Intelligence

  • Aug 18, 2023


Insurance Business Magazine

Insurance facing ‘most disrupted personal lines environment’ Kemper CEO has seen

Property By Gia Snape

Aug 09, 2023


Westfield Insurance leader expects property hard market going into 2024

Property By Gia Snape

Jul 25, 2023


Branch CEO Lekas Announces Layoffs, Citing Inflation, Loss Costs



Jun 09, 2023, by Elizabeth Blosfield


Hard Market Impacts 97% of Brokers

Insurance Advocate Cover Story


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