What Makes Selling Insurance in a Hard Market So Challenging?

There has been a great deal of noise in the insurance industry regarding our current hard market cycle. But what exactly is a hard market and what makes selling insurance such a challenge in this type of economic environment?

What is a hard insurance market?

In the insurance industry, a hard market cycle can be characterized as a period of time when there is high demand for insurance products but a low supply of available coverage. Key factors such as inflation, fraud, increased litigation and weather-related catastrophic claims events are a few of the many contributors to a hard insurance market. More recently, the hard market was exacerbated by COVID-19.   

In a hard market, you are more likely to be up against:

  • Fewer available options. With a limited market, insurers will be more selective in the risks they are willing to accept. 
  • Increased premiums. To compensate for the many contributing financial factors as listed previously, insurers typically end up increasing their rates.
  • Changes in acceptance rules. In response to tight market conditions, carriers may not be willing to renew certain policies, or even permit changes to be made on policies in the middle of a term due to changes/updates in their risk appetite.   

Hard insurance market selling tips

There is a lot of advice out there regarding how to improve sales performance in a hard market cycle. Basically, it all boils down to deploying the following three main tactics.

  • Start the new-business and renewal processes early. With more stringent underwriting criteria, you need to plan on a longer lead time for applications. Plus, getting started early provides the extra time needed to re-market accounts that may have been nonrenewed. Typically, the optimal time frame in which to submit new-business applications is 120 to 150 days ahead of the proposed inception date, and 90 days for renewals.
  • Submit full and complete applications. Incomplete Acord applications, missing supplemental forms or absent loss runs will only delay the quoting/renewal process. This can be frustrating for insureds having to wait until the last minute. A complete submission will help an underwriter quickly and efficiently log in new business, streamlining processing and avoiding delays. 
  • Maintain communications with policyholders. For renewals, it’s important to help insureds understand what they might be up against in terms of their coverage and premium. For example, if you know that the incumbent carrier will be looking at a 15%-20% increase or is reducing general liability limits on a particular line of coverage, convey this to your insureds — and do so as early as possible. Then, see how you might be able to help them secure the coverage/limits/pricing they need. Not only does this demonstrate your commitment to service, but it also helps determine whether you need to approach another carrier.  


To be clear, efforts insurers impose in a hard market aren’t meant to make things more difficult for agents, but instead are set to ensure that companies remain financially secure so that they can make good on their promises to pay claims. By starting the marketing process early, submitting complete submissions and maintaining communications with policyholders, you’ll be in a stronger position to successfully ride out this cycle.

About FastrackCE

Focus less on your continuing education credits and more on selling! At FastrackCE, you can get all your life and health and property and casualty continuing education credits done in one place and at your convenience.  We offer online courses in most states covering a broad range of topics, including most of the state-mandated courses that include long-term care – to name just a few. For more information, call 800-544-3605 or visit us at fastrackce.com.

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