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Library: Verisk – Three strategies for reliable commercial property valuations

Executive summary 

 The Digital Insurer reviews Verisk’s Report on Three strategies for reliable commercial property valuations

Frequent updates can prevent nasty surprises

  • Monthly updates for the cost of building materials and associated labour can help insurers estimate reconstruction costs more accurately.
  • A way to better estimate a business’s equipment, furniture, and inventory that’s based on real-world claims can replace much of the guesswork of today’s methods.
  • Recalculating premiums at renewal with real-world costs can help avoid some of the pitfalls of indexing to values that don’t necessarily reflect market realities.

How confident are you that the most up-to-date, reliable pricing information is driving the replacement cost estimates for your book of business? And even if your claims lined up with your premium yesterday, are you sure that today’s rising inflation, higher costs for materials and labor, and shifting supply chain dynamics are accurately reflected in your valuations?

1.Monthly pricing data makes the difference

Historically, reconstruction costs shift just 2% to 4% over a year. Since the pandemic triggered shortages of labor and materials, 8 percent increases have become typical. The cost to rebuild a commercial property today is 20 percent higher, on average, than pre-pandemic.

For some materials, the spikes have been far more dramatic. Lumber, for instance, shot up meteorically, then tapered off, but is still at a historic high. The answer to help manage such drastic changes is more frequent pricing calculations. Instead of yearly—or even quarterly—recalculations, today’s changeable cost environment calls for monthly pricing updates.

Frequent updates can flatten the curve of these price spikes and be less jarring for agents quoting policies and property owners applying for insurance. Suppose an agent calculates the replacement cost for an office building on the last day of the quarter, and the insurer’s data provider hadn’t updated costs for three months or more. In that case, that agent might be in for an unpleasant surprise on the first of the month when it comes time to bind the policy. No one wants to make a call explaining that the rate will be higher to reflect a season’s worth of shifting costs.

Calculating replacement costs with monthly data means prices are more likely to reflect current market realities. While the numbers may still rise, the pace will likely be more gradual and could help prevent curveball cost changes that often lose deals.

See the full report for more…

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