Michael Conlan, assistant professor of sculpture at the University of North Dakota, decided to take a risk last year. Growing up, he was a skateboarder, and now his 14-year-old son – who will start high school next year – is too.
So in the fall he opened Flow Skate Shop in downtown Grand Forks. He said his son no longer wanted to be tied down to the nearby mall or having to make the long trip to Fargo for his dedicated skate shop.
“We just said, hey, why not? We have some time ahead of us. It’s the middle of the pandemic, let’s try.
There are countless people like Conlan, all of whom are making big changes as the pandemic has reshaped American life. According to the US Census Bureau’s tally of new business applications, 2021 was a banner year in the Upper Midwest, much like much of the rest of the country. In Minnesota, South Dakota and North Dakota combined, the number of requests jumped 11% between 2019 and 2020; they jumped another 22% in 2021.
All set for an interesting two years for insurers, which have felt almost all the effects of the pandemic – including the ripple effects of working from home on the distant influence of soaring inflation. DJ Colter, owner of an agency with American Family Insurance, points out that the change is notable.
“I had clients contact me here last week — she’s a psychiatrist, they’re looking to start her own practice (working) from home,” Colter said. “And she’s like, hey, I know if somebody comes to our house, it’s a different responsibility if they get hurt.”
The same goes for Ryan Hoffman, managing director of Fargo operations for the Marsh McLennan agency, who said he expects new commercial contracts to increase even more in the future.
“We consult many start-up companies. We see a lot of immediate activity because many incubator businesses really start in a home,” Hoffman said. “And before they take off, it will be some time before they turn into something more substantial for which they will need a risk strategy.”
But new business start-ups are just one of the ways the economy has changed dramatically during the COVID pandemic – with masses of employees now working from home, not to mention the huge split in chains. of supply which is now ravaging the markets.
This shift to working from home, which is redefining the nature of the office across the country, has helped loosen cybersecurity defenses, say Matt Peterson and Thomas Tweten, both Bell Insurance executives.
“The two claims we see the most would be ransomware claims, where someone makes a ransom demand after (running) software into your system to lock down information or locked systems,” Peterson said, and said. added that the other is “social”. engineering” – when a scammer usurps a bill or invoice for a service that a recipient regularly uses.
“As people move away and work from home, we’ve definitely seen an increase, in general, of companies that have had incidents of ransomware or social engineering (problems),” he said.
Inflation caused a tremendous amount of economic change, too, with the federal track
jumping 1.2% in March and food prices rising 7.9% in 2022. That price spike is also affecting auto parts, Peterson said, driving up auto repair costs.
“What we’ve seen is that the cost to get a car repaired (has) increased dramatically. So insurers are paying higher dollar claims today for the same claim that’s happening now compared to there. two years ago,” Peterson said.
And, he added, if things continue to change, the insurance industry will also continue to change.
“If this trend continues, we would expect there is likely to be some increase in auto rates in the future.”