The pandemic wrought a lot of changes in the practice of law just like any other business that was affected in a significant way. Interestingly, the nature of litigators is to be averse to changes in how the court system functions. The pandemic familiarized everyone with zoom and it inadvertently made us a more efficient system. For example, I have not taken an in-person deposition since pandemic began. That is a big change. It has saved umpteen hours traveling around to defense counsel’s offices, saved tons of hours of witnesses or court reporters or lawyers being late and saved tons in parking expenses. In court, we now do conferences on everything except settlement and pretrial by zoom in Philadelphia. This saves probably 8 hours per case and $100 in client costs. I would have thought that this would hurt the defense bar because they would bill hourly for travel to conferences and discovery hearings and no longer could do that. When I discussed this during trial with my opponent’s counsel, he said actually, they found that they were more efficient as they knew where their young associates were physically, knew that they were working, and were getting paid more because they were not billing at the lower travel rate and were instead doing actual work. So, this change to “zoom court” has helped both sides it seems and reduced costs for the insurers in legal fees. That will surely not trickle down to your insurance rates but that is another story.
In speaking to insurance agents recently, they are seeing insurers fleeing most markets and rates going up by 14% or more across all markets. That means that your renewal rates for homeowners, auto, etc. will go up or have been going up. Mostly this is because the insurers are losing money and need to increase their revenue. That is not your fault, but it hurts everyone. Rates going up are a roundabout way of reflecting increases in costs of repairing a roof or a bumper etc. Stuff is just more expensive. And then there are all the fancy new vehicles on the market.
Here is a quick story. My wife was driving her Tesla Y, which is the required suburban mom vehicle to keep up with the joneses. She was in an accident that was not the other person’s fault. Let’s leave it at that. The Tesla was severely damaged. Everyone was okay. The Tesla is still in the shop five months later because Tesla has been frantically trying to make new cars and has been lagging on making replacement parts. The body shop guy is exceedingly apologetic but it’s ridiculous. As a result, the insurer had to pay its maximum amount of money for rental cars, the body shop has not been paid out fully, and we have been without a car for long periods. The Y was the most popular purchased car in America last year with the Rav 4, so soon you will start to see the repair delays work their way through such that the insurers will want higher rates to insure these popular cars.