Issues & Answers Special Advertising Section
President, WSIA Board of Directors
President of Markel Specialty
“We know that even during these trying times, increasing demand for solutions to emerging risks and product innovation will be key drivers of growth.”
What is the current outlook for the wholesale, specialty and surplus lines market?
The surplus lines market has more than doubled in size during the last 20 years, growing from 3.3% of the total property/casualty direct written premiums in 1998 to 7.4% at the end of 2018, and surplus lines grew as a percentage of commercial lines direct written premiums from 6.7% to 15.7% in that time. A recent report from the 15 states with surplus lines stamping offices also indicates that premium is continuing to grow, as is the number of filings with those stamping offices. Total surplus lines premium reported to those states in 2019 was $37.5 billion, which is a 19.3% increase over 2018, representing remarkable growth.
The market is at a record level of surplus lines premium, and surplus lines carriers continue to maintain a higher proportion of secure financial ratings than the overall property/casualty market.
The COVID-19 pandemic is unprecedented. How are WSIA member wholesale brokers and carriers adapting and accommodating insureds in response to the current crisis?
Wholesale, specialty and surplus lines insurers and wholesale brokers are solutions providers, and while this current global health crisis is unlike anything we’ve ever seen as an industry, we’re working through this just like we would any other catastrophic event to try and achieve good outcomes for insureds. We are focused on maintaining good communication and providing uninterrupted service. Since the pandemic began, each state has issued its own regulatory and legislative guidance, much of which has been aimed at providing relief to insureds who are managing through the distress of COVID-19, which call for various policyholder accommodations and grace periods. We’re committed to working with insureds and help them manage through COVID-19 impacts.
What do you view as opportunities for the surplus lines market moving forward?
We have opportunities to leverage emerging artificial intelligence technology and insurtech to enhance efficiency and accuracy in developing and distributing specialty insurance solutions. We have opportunities to continue to promote and deliver on the value of wholesale distribution. Wholesale brokers are experts in customizing insurance solutions that best meet the unique needs of the insurance buyer, which will be increasingly critical in coming months and years. We also have a growing opportunity to educate regulators and lawmakers on the critical role of the wholesale, specialty and surplus lines market to protect consumers, support economic development and insure the riskiest assets and operations for individuals and businesses.