The individual insurance market makes up a sizable segment of most insurers' business. However, economic trends, personal circumstances and life events play a large role in most individuals' decisions to purchase and maintain coverage, which can make finance lead generation and sales inconsistent. In contrast, most commercial entities are more consistent in their insurance needs, which can be a benefit for insurers during periods of market fluctuation. Further, research shows that the changes and conditions that may drive individuals away from insurance do not have the same effect on commercial groups.

A new Hanover Stone Partners survey shows commercial buyers are more accepting of policy changes, ranging from price adjustments to modified features, according to the Insurance Journal. In many instances, insurers may be required to moderately increase prices, slash certain features or make other alterations for several reasons, and knowing that one segment is likely to stick with them through these adjustments is important to the evolving industry.

Many insurers were forced to hike their insurance rates this year, the survey showed. For example, roughly 50 percent of buyers saw their casualty insurance premiums increase between 1 and 5 percent in 2012, while 1 in 10 buyers saw premiums rise by 6 to 10 percent. Regarding auto liability coverage, a third of buyers experienced premium hikes between 1 and 5 percent, while 12 percent were required to pay between 6 and 10 percent more to maintain their existing coverage.

Some commercial buyers shop around for new coverage

Although many corporate entities have the means to remain loyal to their insurers if they provide quality products, not all companies were willing to absorb higher prices. The survey showed that many were only accepting of price hikes and changes up to a certain point.

"In the face of modest price increases, most buyers are choosing to maintain both their level of insurance protection as well as their relationships with incumbent insurers," John Kelly, managing partner of Hanover Stone Partners, told Insurance Journal. "Should pricing continue to rise, however, we may see more buyers looking for alternatives, both in terms of program structure and their insurance providers."

For example, one in 10 buyers made changes to their casualty insurance by switching brokers after their premiums were increased, the survey found. Further, 11 percent of those holding auto liability coverage changed brokers and the same percentage changed insurers.

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