There have been rumblings about a hard market for several months, but what exactly is a hard market and how do we know when we’re in one? According to IRMI, a hard market is “when premiums increase and capacity for most types of insurance decreases.” Rough Notes defines a hard market as “the period during which underwriting standards are very tight and the rates are high.”

Premiums are clearly on the rise in many lines (see herehere, and here). But whether we’re entering a full hard market and how long it might last is still a matter of debate. Some are arguing that it may not be a full hardening of the market (see additional articles on our list).

We have compiled information on hard markets and suggestions for how to respond to hard markets as well as details about market cycles.

  • Is This a Hard Market?, by James Curbeam, Risk & Insurance, 31 no. 1 (February, 2020): 22
  • Despite Rising Premiums, Hard Market Not ExpectedThe Standard, 285 no. 11 (November 29, 2019): 6
  • Not so Fast on Any Hard Market: Conditions Seem Ripe for Rates to Rise, But Overcapacity in Excess & Surplus and Elsewhere Hinders Hardening, Katie Dwyer, Risk & Insurance, 29 no.1 (February, 2018): 72, 74
  • Aon Benfield Head of Market Analysis: Despite Cats, Don’t Look for a Broad Hard Market, by Yvette Essen, BestWeek Global Edition, 1 no. 17 (November 27, 2017): 15-17
  • State of the Market Going into 2020 – Significant Rate Increases AheadThe John Liner Letter, 57 no. 3 (February, 2020): 1-7
  • Hard Market on the Horizon, by Dante Disparte and Daniel Wagner, 65 no.1 (January/February 2018): 4, 6-7
  • Observers say Jury Awards Helping to Harden Medical Liability Market, by Timothy Darragh, BestWeek Global Edition, 3 no. 50 (December 16, 2019): 1-3
  •  Professional Liability: A Hard Market Comes around Softly, Joseph S. Harrington, Rough Notes 162 no. 10 (October 2019): 50-52
  • Surviving the Hard Market: Now is the Time to Review Your Insurance Coverage, by Spencer Macalaster, New England Real Estate Journal, (January 21, 2020)
  • 12 Tips for Selling in a Hard Market, by Bill Wilson (January 22, 2020)
  • Defy Hard Market with Soft Skills, by Gavin Souter, Business Insurance, 53 no.13 (December, 2019): 52
  • Tough Times: Risk Management Strategies for a Hard Market, by Judy Greenwald and Clair Wilkinson, Business Insurance, 29 no.6 (December, 2017): 8-9
  • How to Plan for a Hard MarketThe CSR Advisor, 53 no.13 (December, 2019): 3-4
  • Hard Market Prompts Fresh Look at Building Values, by Claire Wilkinson, Business Insurance, 54 no. 2 (February, 2020): 9



  • Like Spring’s Arrival, The P&C Cycle Turns: Manage Your Business for Change, by David Ovenden and Andrew Harley, Emphasis, no. 2 (2013): 13-18
  • Property Casualty Insurance Underwriting Cycle Development, by Clint Harris, ARP, ARe, Alan Dobbins, Jerry Theodorou and Stephan L. Christiansen, FCAS, The Conning Commentary, 19 no. 2 (February, 2010): 1-3, 5-6
  • Insurance Market Cycles: Why Does it Have to be so Crazy?, by Sarah Perry, ARM-P and Scott Wightman, ARM, Public Risk, 24 no. 2 (February, 2008): 12-13, 15-16
  • Cycles are not Inevitable for Disciplined Underwrters, by Bayard “Bud” Bigelow, III, National Underwrter Property Casualty, 111 no. 36 (October 1, 2007): 50, 49
  • Chicken or Egg — Or? Lloyd’s Report Analyzes Insurance Industry Cycles, by Phil Zinkewicz, Rough Notes 150 no. 2 (February, 2007): 122-124
  • Nohing is Certain: The Move Away From Traditional Cycles Gives Way to Line by Line Fluctuations, by Phil Zinkewicz, Rough Notes 149 no. 8 (August, 2006): 98-99
  • Cycles and Crises in Property/Casualty Insurance: Causes and Implications for Public Policy,  National Association of Insurance Commissioners (1991): Kansas City, MO
  • The Underwriting Cycle and Investment Income, by William C. Wilson, Jr., CPCU, CPCU Journal, 34 no. 4 (December 1981): 225-232