Is there a scam or conspiracy to raise liability insurance rates?
There is no conspiracy. Most insurance companies have needed to raise rates for the last several years. 9/11 gave them the excuse. As you may or may not know there is a cycle on insurance between hard and soft markets. Right now we are in the middle of a hard market meaning that the stock market is not making much money. This means that insurance companies that have leveraged heavily in the stock market must make up the difference that they were supposed to earn by charging more premiums. If you are very concerned about premiums going up then do not deal with large companies that do not care or smaller companies that just do not have the power. A good medium sized company is the best.
Having said that, where is your agent in all of this? He should be out negating with the insurance companies for your business. (Side note, if your agent has been in the business less than 14 years, more than likely he or she does not have the experience of a hard market)
We have not had a hard market since around 1985. For those agents that are reading this and went through those times, they realize the meaning of customer service. I don't mean the captured agents, I mean the Independents that saw a lot of companies disappear.
So in selecting an agent you must look for several things. Do they have multiple companies, are they an employee of an insurance company, if so, when there is a problem, will they be able to go to bat for you without loosing their job, How long has the agency been there? Who owns the Agency, are they local or is it a bank in another state?
When choosing a company, do they give a multi-year rate guarantee? Do they offer industry specific coverages? What class codes are they using for you? Are they charging you for your Sub work?
Just some ideas of what is going on. Hard markets are just that.. HARD. Don't think of it as you are now paying 120,000 a year. Think of it as, for the last X years I saved 80,000 a year. That is reality.