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From the Front Lines: Architects & Engineers

Independent agent Stefanie Fuller says technology is one big challenge in the architects & engineers insurance industry. "As design firms continue to evolve, it can be difficult to find insurance solutions to address their needs," Fuller says.
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Stefanie Fuller

Account Executive
Dealey, Renton & Associates
Pasadena, California

How did you get started at your agency?

I previously worked at an agency in Seattle on a team that specialized in architects & engineers insurance. I moved to Los Angeles in 2013 and joined the team at Dealey, Renton & Associates (DRA) shortly thereafter.

Why A&E insurance?

I started in the accounting department at the previous agency I worked for. When an opportunity opened on the A&E team, I started as an assistant. I enjoy acting as an extension of our client’s risk management departments and not solely focusing on transacting the renewal.

Biggest changes in the industry?

Over the past decade or so, there’s been an increase in capacity for limits in the marketplace, mostly due to the number of insurers offering coverage for design firms. With that, we’ve also seen a demand for higher limits from our clients as project owners are requiring the limits to address the size and complexity of the projects being constructed. We’re also seeing a significant increase in the settlement amounts on claims. It’s no longer uncommon to see seven figure claims on a regular basis.

Biggest challenges?

Design firms are expanding beyond traditional services offered and insurance companies can be slow to adjust. An example of this is the role of technology. Design firms may be creating software for clients in conjunction with their traditional services or using a drone to collect data and not all policies are appropriately addressing these risks. As design firms continue to evolve, it can be difficult to find insurance solutions to address their needs.

Future trends?

After over a decade of a soft market, we’re starting to see some hard market indicators. We’ve seen an uptick in claims severity. Markets are starting to tighten their underwriting guidelines and discuss rate increases in 2020. We’ve also seen fewer new entrants to the A&E professional liability market.

A&E insurance advice for a fellow agent?

If you’re interested in working with design firms, make it your focus and immerse yourself in the industry. Most design firms value a resource that’s knowledgeable in all aspects of their business, which can be difficult to find. DRA works with over 3,000 design firms on the West Coast, so our team has the expertise necessary to work in the design industry.

Favorite success story?

An account was referred to me by another client because they were having difficulties meeting their contractual requirements and their existing broker couldn’t find a solution. We submitted broker of record letters and found a more appropriate insurance program at renewal, which also resolved their contractual issues.

AnneMarie McPherson is IA assistant editor.

Sunday, August 2, 2020
Architects & Engineers