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COVID-19 and small commercial: Underwater

As the first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic continues to break across rural counties in Middle America, many small commercial businesses have already been pulled under by the tidal forces of a deeply distressed economy.

In the latest update to the ISO MarketStance Commercial Lines Forecast, we’re projecting that roughly 1.5 million insured companies will have gone out of business by the end of 2020. Most of these are among the smallest businesses with no employees. However, more than 400,000 small commercial accounts with 49 or fewer employees will also shut their doors, many of them permanently

While small businesses across every industry have struggled to keep their heads above water, the culture and hospitality sector is drowning. Indeed, we are projecting that one out of every five insured businesses in this sector, which includes firms in the Arts, Entertainment, Recreation, Accommodation and Food Service industries, will close in 2020.

What may come as a bigger surprise: from a multi-line profitability perspective, even prior to the COVID-19 outbreak, many of these small commercial restaurant, theater, café, and hotel/motel accounts were underwater.

Moving into the post-pandemic future, small commercial leaders have an unprecedented opportunity, starting now, to hit the reset button, focus on growing the culture and hospitality businesses profitably, thereby playing a key role in the recovery of our cities and towns. In addition to leading market analysis solutions provided by ISO MarketStance, Verisk has a wealth of small commercial underwriting tools to help our customers manage that opportunity.

Download your copy of the ISO MarketStance Commercial Lines Forecast—October Update to learn more.

Eric Price-Glynn

Eric Price-Glynn is senior principal and head of the MarketStance division. He can be reached at

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