Average umbrella and excess liability rates in the U.S. climbed 3.1 percent higher in the 2014 first quarter. Marsh Global Analytics claims that’s a sign of market softening, however, because it’s the second-smallest rate of increase in almost two years. What’s more, the percentage of clients who experienced rate decreases is on the rise.

Marsh, in its briefing on the 2014 first-quarter industry benchmarks, said that most insureds saw low single-digit rate changes—though they jumped much higher or lower in some cases, depending on the industry, loss history and other risks.

Who faced the increases?

That would be the chemical, energy, life sciences, mining and product manufacturing industries, Marsh said, as they confronted greater concerns about explosion, pollution and class action product litigation-related losses. On the other hand, light manufacturing companies, financial institutions, retailers and real estate companies generally enjoyed more positive results (from the buyers’ perspectives), Marsh said.

Worth noting: 24 percent of clients saw their rates decrease as of the 2014 first quarter. That’s up from 16 percent in the 2012 third quarter and reflects a steady increase over that period of the number of clients whose rates decreased.