[caption id="attachment_36239" align="alignleft" width="198" caption="Pam Chanter"][/caption]

Pamela Chanter

Vice President

What do you see as the trends in business insurance for 2012?

One of the newer business  insurance products that I think will take off in 2012 is cyber liability insurance that deals with privacy cyber security issues and covers identity theft, network security, E&O, and media and web content. 

Also, rates for workers compensation insurance will rise, especially for those with high experience modification factors due to claims, for California employers.

Reasons:Medical inflation -- California has double the national health care rateIncreased litigation involving multiple body parts and psych disorders, etc.Court decision such as Ogilvy, Alvarez & Guzman case- shifting permanent disability and increases legal expenseSluggish economy, slow recovery and joblessness. ... Employees file claims when anticipating a job layoffExplosion of narcotics and prescription drugsAging workforce where people choose or are forced to work longerObesity -- next generation coming into workforceContingent workers – transfer of occupational riskBenefit delivery system is still complex and has high costLong-tail issues subjected to short-term political expediency

What trends do you see in employee benefits for 2012, in cost and in design?

With regard to employee benefits, we are seeing now and expecting more in 2012. Employers are recognizing the burden to employees of the cost of their health benefit programs and re-evaluating whether to offer ancillary coverages such as dental and vision, especially where employees have not received raises in some time.

Employers are obviously  also struggling in these slow economic times, so most employee benefit plans are being completely redesigned and this takes education of employees. As brokers, we are working closely in this  redesign process and education process with employers and employees  to find affordable options that still meet the needs of our clients. National health care reform is still a moving target and Kaiser is no longer the low cost leader.

What issues are clients asking about most often and what are you telling them?

Life Insurance for businesses seems to also be a trending product of the times. As businesses have used up their working capital and feel more vulnerable, they are choosing  to fully fund  their buy-sell or stock redemption agreements as well as  purchasing key-man life insurance to protect their business assets.