RT’s Brenda Austenfeld: Fatigue rising among US property buyers

Buyer fatigue is rising among US insureds as they become increasingly exasperated with continued rate hikes and coverage restrictions.

This was the warning from Brenda Austenfeld, CEO and president of national property at RT Specialty, as she met with The Insurer TV at this year’s WSIA Underwriting Summit in Phoenix, Arizona.

“It's a real thing, buying fatigue. They are fed up – a lot of them have seen continued rate increases, and we all understand it,” she said.

Austenfeld said buyers were also exhausted with the challenges around working out how much their insurance was worth and what percentage of their property was covered.

However, she said there were some indications that US property cat rates are starting to stabilise.

“We are not seeing changes across the board – it's not a broad brush,” she said, adding that stabilisation was dependent on sector and location.

Austenfeld said she didn’t see any chance of insurers increasing the limits they were offering in property cat, even if a large amount of capital entered the market.

“I don't see at this stage any large limit changes. Somebody who's going to come in with a really big number of capacity for any significant cat-type account, whether it's coastal, whether it's wildfire, or even severe convective storm, nobody's putting up large limits at this stage,” said Austenfeld.

Austenfeld: Industry needs to go on a hiring spree

Austenfeld highlighted talent as another major issue on the horizon for the property cat market.

“We do have a shortage of the top decile talent,” she said.

Without an influx of talent, Austenfeld said insurers would struggle to continue to do the “very best that we can for retail brokers and their insureds”.

To meet this challenge, RT Specialty had been on a hiring spree, recruiting and training up to a hundred new workers a year.

“Over the last two years, we're hiring, you know, up to 100 every year and training them within RT and Ryan Specialty ourselves,” said Austenfeld.

She called on the whole market to do more to resolve the talent shortage.

“Our message to literally almost all of our market partners is to hire more people,” she said.

“Underwriting talent is definitely in a shortage area. And we continue to try to help our market partners also find that talent. So more to come with that with the continued growth for sure,” concluded.

Watch this 12-minute video to learn more about:

  • The stamping offices’ results
  • The likelihood of the admitted market coming into nat cat
  • The difference for an insured, going from the admitted to non-admitted market
  • Austenfeld’s plans as WSIA president