If you’re like many Americans today, you are experiencing “sticker shock” in various ways, including grocery costs, utility increases, and fuel prices. One unlikely connection that most people are unaware of is how increases in inflation are also increasing the price of insurance. This is especially true in the rate of property insurance. Construction costs, including the supply of material and the demand for new construction, factor in with inflation when insurance is estimated for a property.
This article will examine the impact of inflation on insurance premiums and provide an approach to insurance when dealing with building, rebuilding after loss, and even paying insurance premiums.
What is Inflation?
Before getting into the specifics of the property insurance rates, we should first determine what inflation means. According to the Oxford Dictionary, “inflation is a general increase in prices and fall in the purchasing power of money,” (www.languages.oup.com). There are many reasons for inflation to increase but one factor is the shortage of supply, which was widespread during the COVID pandemic and is still an issue within some industries.
Rising inflation rates directly affect the purchasing power of the dollar, even for products that were not available for purchase because of a limited supply.
Insurance Premiums are Rising with Inflation
Insurance premiums also are adjusted by carriers to account for the difference in the costs of materials and services.
According to the Insurance Information Institute, the national average for insurance premiums rose in 2021 at a rate of 4% over 2020, with an average annual premium of $1,398.Unfortunately, the inflation rate at the end of 2021 was at 4.6%, which prompted another 3.7% increase in premiums for the coming year for properties worth less than $1 million, and 6.7% for higher-value homes. (www.thebalance.com)
All property owners who carry insurance should recognize that insurance premiums are affected by inflation because of increased prices and how insurance policies have to forecast the cost of labor and materials at the time of a loss.
Higher Prices; Fewer Construction Workers
According to an ABC story from December of 2021, construction prices increased 23.5% from the same time in 2020 for residential structures, and 24.5% in non-residential construction. Many specific industries were targeted with large increases in cost, mostly due to supply and demand issues, such as iron & steel (+105.1%), natural gas (+150.6%), fabricated structural metal products (+42.9%), and so on. The prices for nearly all construction related products increased from 2020 to 2021. (U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics)
Beyond construction materials, the available labor force has decreased sharply, partly due to the pandemic and partly due to fewer laborers in the work force overall. During the pandemic, many businesses that support construction were shut down for long periods. This forced workers to look outside of the construction industry for jobs. That dip in available, qualified labor continues to be a problem across many industries and organizations. There remains a high demand and low supply of workers in the current job market.
Rising Insurance Rates are About the Cost of the Claim
Going back to insurance rates, a lack of labor and lack of materials means insurance companies need to estimate a higher replacement value for insured property. If inflation rates are expected to rise within the period of an insurance policy, then insurance carriers need to include that in their price.
Can You Also Insure Against Inflation?
You may be eligible for inflation protection in your policy. Inflation protection in a policy would mean that your benefits for a claim would be paid based on the inflation rate at the time of the claim. This would protect your buying power and ensure that benefits during the life of a policy don’t erode due to inflation. For some policies, inflation protection would adjust benefits based on inflation at the time of renewal.
You should check with your agent to determine if your insurance carrier offers inflation protection coverage.
As a policy holder, it is each person’s responsibility to understand and educate themselves about how inflation impacts their insurance premiums.
This article mostly covered the effects of inflation on the building and property insurance market, but the auto, healthcare, and even life insurance industries are also affected by rising inflation. Please take a moment to research the impact of inflation in these markets.
You can also contact the Loomis Insurance Agency today to discuss any questions you may have. We are happy to be of service!