What’s Changing in the World of Commercial General Liability Insurance

Commercial General Liability (CGL) and excess liability insurance are essential components of risk management for businesses, providing coverage against claims for bodily injury, property damage, and other liabilities. However, businesses in the United States have been facing rising premiums for these types of insurance. Several key factors contribute to this upward trend, driven by changes in the legal environment, economic conditions, and the evolving risk landscape.

Legal Environment and Litigation Trends

One of the primary drivers of increasing premiums for CGL and excess liability insurance is the evolving legal environment, marked by a rise in litigation and the growing trend of “nuclear verdicts” – exceptionally large jury awards, often exceeding $10 million. These verdicts significantly impact insurers’ loss ratios and drive up the cost of reinsurance, which is passed on to policyholders in the form of higher premiums. Additionally, the increasing frequency and severity of class action lawsuits and a litigious culture in the U.S. contribute to higher legal defense costs and settlement amounts, prompting insurers to raise premiums to cover these escalating expenses.

Economic Factors

Economic conditions also play a crucial role in determining insurance premiums. Inflation affects the cost of claims, as rising prices for medical care, repair, and replacement of damaged property lead to higher claim payouts. Additionally, economic downturns can increase the likelihood of claims, as businesses facing financial strain might be more prone to accidents or might not invest adequately in safety measures. Moreover, the volatility in financial markets impacts insurers’ investment income, prompting them to adjust premiums to maintain profitability and solvency.

Emerging Risks

The risk landscape for businesses is continually evolving, with new and emerging risks contributing to higher premiums. Cyber risks, for example, have become a significant concern, as data breaches and cyber-attacks lead to substantial financial losses and legal liabilities. Insurers must account for these risks when underwriting policies, leading to increased premiums. Additionally, the rise of the gig economy and shared services introduces new liability exposures, as traditional business models evolve and create complex risk scenarios that are more challenging to underwrite.

Natural Disasters and Climate Change

Natural disasters and climate change have a profound impact on liability insurance premiums. The increasing frequency and severity of natural disasters such as hurricanes, wildfires, and floods result in higher claims for property damage and business interruption. These events strain the insurance industry’s capacity and lead to higher reinsurance costs, which are then transferred to policyholders. Furthermore, climate change introduces long-term risks, as businesses must adapt to changing environmental conditions, leading to potential liabilities related to environmental damage and regulatory compliance.

Regulatory Changes

Regulatory changes at the federal and state levels also influence insurance premiums. Stricter regulations and compliance requirements can increase operational costs for businesses and insurers alike. For instance, new safety standards, environmental regulations, or changes in labor laws can lead to higher compliance costs and potential liabilities, necessitating adjustments in insurance pricing to account for these increased risks.

Capacity and Market Dynamics

The insurance market’s capacity and dynamics also affect premiums. When there is a reduction in the number of insurers willing to underwrite certain risks, the remaining insurers can command higher premiums due to reduced competition. Market conditions such as mergers and acquisitions, changes in underwriting strategies, and fluctuations in reinsurance capacity all play a role in shaping premium rates.


The increase in premiums for Commercial General Liability and excess liability insurance in the U.S. is a multifaceted issue influenced by a combination of legal, economic, and environmental factors. Rising litigation costs, economic inflation, emerging risks, natural disasters, regulatory changes, and market dynamics collectively drive the upward trend in insurance premiums. Businesses must navigate this complex landscape by implementing robust risk management practices and staying informed about the evolving risk environment to mitigate the impact of rising insurance costs.

Interested in learning more or speaking with a team member about your insurance needs? Contact us now, info@goodmanvenegas.com