From Q4 of 2021 through Q1 of this year, we’ve seen the dust settling from a peculiar market, while the word “pandemic” has almost become taboo. In insurance, it is necessary to discuss how the state of the insurance industry has been affected by the pandemic.  

The excess and surplus markets have become the key factor in navigating the current marketplace. Our team has been thankful for the ability to use our expertise to help our agency partners successfully mitigate increases, place coverage and serve their insureds. Spending the past 30 years in the excess and surplus marketplace has given us insight and perspective into its behavior. The below report is a snapshot of the current state of the market, trends we can expect, and what to do with this information to help you be the best broker you can be to your insureds. 

 

CURRENT STATE OF THE MARKET 

Each year, states with a designated Surplus Lines Stamping Office report current market data. While not every state has a designated office, the data collected makes up just over two-thirds of the total market data in the US Excess and Surplus lines market.  The Wholesale & Specialty Insurance Association then collects and reports this data. Based on this reporting, 2021 saw a 22% increase in surplus lines premium, totaling $51 Billion. Each state with a designated stamping office reported double-digit increases.  This trend has continued into Q1 of 2022 and appears to be the case across the country.

The transaction increase did not linearly miror the premium increase, but transactions also saw record-breaking increases of about 7%, totaling 5.3 million transactions.  This does mean the premium increase resulted from some increase in existing Surplus Lines policies from 2020; however, it more so points to an influx of policies from the standard marketplace to the excess and surplus marketplace. 

 

WHY THE INFLUX? 

It just so happens that the excess and surplus lines marketplace is substantially equipped to handle an insurance industry directly affected by the pandemic. After years of uncertainty on all fronts, the standard insurance market experienced a drastic hardening as admitted carriers strictly tightened appetites and underwriting guidelines, issued premium increases, and delivered non-renewals. In the past two years, we’ve indeed seen the E&S market harden and experience premium increases; however, E&S continues to thrive in placing coverage the standard markets will not.

 

WHAT CAN WE EXPECT FOR 2022? 

The great news is that the excess and surplus marketplace is softening. The softening may be minimal and still not resemble a pre-pandemic market, but it is undoubtedly a step in the right direction. So far in 2022, we’ve seen carriers loosen appetites, work to retain renewals, and be much more aggressive in winning new business. Premium increases have generally stabilized with many lines showing flat to minimal increase. We expect to see this trend continue throughout 2022. 

 

WHAT ABOUT SPECIFIC LINES OF COVERAGE? 

While the market in general has stabilized, there are variances between different lines of coverage. Below, we highlight some of the more popular coverages we experience:  

GENERAL LIABILITY– General liability has been and is projected to be the most stable and consistent line of coverage in the E&S marketplace. Increases appear to be flat to a minimal increase percentage. 

EXCESS/UMBRELLA LIABILITY– Excess liability has been affected tremendously by the long-term effects of the pandemic. Over the past two years, we’ve seen writing capacity decrease while premiums increase.  Thankfully, while the Excess/Umbrella market is still somewhat volatile, the increase appears to have stalled and appetites have improved. 

PROPERTY– Again, recent events have made the property market quite difficult. Natural Disasters, among other things, continue to play a role in creating a challenging marketplace in certain parts of the country. Like the excess/umbrella market, property remains one of the more hardened and volatile markets, but improvements are starting to show and the expectation is that it will continue. 

CYBER LIABILITY– With the world going remote in the wake of the pandemic, Cybercrime has increased by triple digits. Furthermore, Accenture states that 45% of all cybercrime is geared toward small to medium-sized businesses. The cost of cyber security measures will continue to increase drastically, and the need for Cyber liability coverage is imperative. Industries such as school districts and public entities have difficulty obtaining coverage, and the general marketplace has experienced increases. This challenge should hopefully resolve as the market adapts. 

PROFESSIONAL LINES – The pandemic led to significant hardening of the professional lines market. With unprecedented levels of furloughs, lay-offs, and shut-downs, followed by mandatory return-to-work protocols, increased mergers and acquisitions, and more…the market may feel the effects for some time. This has proven a big driver from admitted markets to the E&S marketplace, where the writing capacity has been far greater. 

 

WHAT DOES THIS MEAN FOR YOU, THE AGENT? 

Because the standard/admitted markets continue to harden and adjust their appetites, the excess and surplus markets have grown substantially and will continue to grow. While the E&S market is still hard, it is softening and it is time to take advantage of the market behavior. Our teams have been able to capitalize on this behavior in what we are calling a “re-marketing market.” With the dust settling, the E&S market improving, and its carriers acting more aggressively to win and retain business, it’s an excellent opportunity to approach the market the right way, reaping the best it offers. The best way to approach this market is with an experienced broker who applies a holistic, comprehensive approach to each risk. 

 

WHAT ELSE CAN WE EXPECT FROM 2022? 

THE RESURGENCE OF SMALL BUSINESS- The pandemic played a huge role in sparking the “support local and small business” movement. Because of this and the economy reopening in many ways, we’ve seen and can expect to see a tremendous increase in small businesses needing coverage! 

INNOVATION– The E&S Market is prime for the placement of new risks and innovative industries. The industries include innovative Agriculture, Healthcare, Autonomous Vehicles, Technology, Cannabis, Energy, and more. We expect to see more and more of these in 2022 and beyond. 

A NEW “STANDARD OFFERING” – We mentioned previously the increased need for Cyber Liability and Professional Lines, especially Employers Liability. As these cases continue to increase, we believe Cyber Liability and EPLI will (and should) become part of the standard lines of coverage for most any insured. 

CONCLUSION

The past couple of years have been interesting for our industry, to say the least. The long-term effects of the pandemic are still felt in many ways…which will most likely continue. 

The Excess and Surplus lines market is becoming more than just a marketplace for unorthodox insureds or ones with loss history. The growth of the E&S marketplace stems from filling the void left by the hardening of the admitted markets. As the standard market continues to drive insureds to the world of non-admitted markets, we’ll continue to see growth, premium stabilization/minimal increases on renewals, and increased writing capacity among carriers across all industries and lines of coverage.  

2022 has brought with it many positives and an excellent market outlook.

We’re always here to help, and we look forward to our continued work together in 2022 and beyond.

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