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The Excess & Surplus Market: An Untapped Book of Business

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there were 445,540 independent sales agents in the United States as of May 2022. That’s a significant number of people vying for the same piece of the insurance “pie.” But how well is the insurance industry serving insurance agents and brokers? Ask any insurance professional and they will tell you the industry has seen better days.

A.M. Best — the U.S.-based rating agency that focuses on the insurance industry — reported the U.S. property/casualty industry recorded a net underwriting loss of $26.5 billion for year-end 2022. According to the report, personal lines losses and the impact of Hurricane Ian caused the industry’s combined ratio to deteriorate to 102.7 from 99.7 in 2021. The underwriting loss came despite an 8.4% growth in net earned premiums and a 21.4% decline in policyholder dividends, which were countered by a 13.9% increase in incurred losses and loss adjustment expenses (LAE), as well as a 6.2% rise in other underwriting expenses.

Marketplace changes also affected the ability to write business, with limitations, exclusions, and gaps becoming more stringent. Companies such as Scottish American Capital and Zurich with too much capital are not making money, canceling policies and closing markets. Mergers and acquisitions also tainted risk “appetite,” pricing and availability.

How, then, does the future look for the insurance agent or broker? In an increasingly challenged, ever-competitive industry, they would be wise to mine hard-to-place, specialty business — an untapped resource for increasing book for business. Says Rick J. Lindsey, Chairman and CEO of Prime Insurance Company — a leading excess and surplus lines insurance carrier that specializes in providing solutions for specialty and declined risks — “Specialty business is a niche that will differentiate the agency field force and provide more options for solutions.”

E&S Delivers for Agents and Brokers

Instead of kicking hard-to-place risks to the curb, the excess and surplus (E&S) lines market provides specialty markets the ability to handle risks that have been declined, non-renewed, or have unique underwriting characteristics. Simply put, an E&S lines insurance carrier like Prime Insurance Company says “yes” when standard, admitted insurance carriers cannot or will not provide coverage —enabling agents and brokers to expand their capabilities and book of business.

Typical types of risks written in E&S lines include those that:

  • Are high risk, such as explosive manufacturing, firearms makers, hazardous haulers
  • Do not fit standard market underwriting, such as bars and taverns with dance floors, vacant properties, taxi cabs
  • Require higher limits than offered by standard markets, such as $10,000,000 + liability umbrellas or $5,000,000 + property limits
  • Require specialty coverage, such as special events, concerts, hole-in-one contests, and unique situations
  • Have excessive or otherwise unacceptable loss history

Fact is, without the E&S market, clients would be forced to go uninsured or self-insure their risk exposure, which means they’re on their own if an incident, claim or lawsuit occurs.

Mining Specialty Business Starts with Current Book of Business

In many cases, specialty services provide security and coverage that clients didn’t know they needed or wanted but should have. Agents and brokers can uncover these untapped specialty opportunities by evaluating their prospects and current book of business. Do they have dogs or exotic pets? Do they own firearms? Do they train, mentor or provide care for others? Rent or own recreation devices? Serve on Board of Directors? Volunteer or coach? By evaluating their prospects and clients, agents and brokers may very well find they haven’t addressed these risks or perhaps, they didn’t know how to place these risks.

Lindsey offers these guidelines: Put the clean risks with the traditional market; put the very hard-to-place, difficult risks that take time and other resources with a specialty excess and surplus lines carrier who will help provide a solution for these risks.

Building Your Specialty Business with Prime Insurance Company

When seeking out an E&S carrier, it’s important to partner with a company that doesn’t compete with current markets but writes the business being declined. Prime Insurance Company, Inc. writes E&S business in all 50 states and has an A (excellent) A.M. Best rating. Prime doesn’t compete with current markets, but provides coverage on all or part of the risk, allowing for more new business opportunities for agents and brokers.

Prime offers 30+ years of diversified, underwriting experience for very hard-to-place risks, including commercial and garage liability, personal lines, commercial auto (not available in all states), specialty and professional liability. Over the last three decades, Prime has formed a number of strategic relationships with some of the world’s premier insurance organizations, including Lloyd’s of London, Gen Re, and RLI. Prime is also a member of the Wholesale & Specialty Insurance Association (WSIA).

Prime has offices in Salt Lake City, Chicago, and Naples, Florida, and has insured virtually every type of risk, from a brilliant pyrotechnics show, a world-record helicopter bungee jump into the caldera of an active volcano above a pool of molten lava, to two brothers attempting to swim the English Channel, and many other extraordinary risks.

Bottom Line

The E&S market is viable and growing. S&P Global reported that excess and surplus (E&S) premiums increased for the fourth straight year in 2022, rising 20% to $75.51 billion from $62.90 billion in 2021. They also reported that premiums have more than doubled from the 2018 total of $34.65 billion.. The E&S market — and Prime Insurance Company — allow agents and brokers to grow their capacity and revenue, and capture more of the insurance “pie,” while fulfilling an important customer need.


To learn more about Prime Insurance Company, contact Frank Lukacs, Chief Marketing Officer, frankl@primeis.com or 801-304-5573.


rick lindseyAuthored by Rick J. Lindsey, CEO, President, and Chairman of Prime Insurance Company

Rick J. Lindsey hails from Salt Lake City, Utah. He began working in the mailroom of his father’s Salt Lake City insurance firm, getting his introduction to the business that became his lifelong career. Lindsey quickly rose through the ranks while working in nearly every imaginable insurance industry job. As an entrepreneur, specialty lines underwriter, claims specialist, risk manager, and a licensed surplus lines broker, Rick Lindsey is highly skilled in all levels of leadership and execution. As he progressed on his career path, Rick discovered an urgent need for insurers willing to write policies for high-risk individuals and businesses. He was frequently frustrated that he could not provide the liability protection these entities desperately needed to safeguard their assets. He also formed the belief that insurance companies acted too quickly to settle frivolous claims. Lindsey decided to try a different approach. He started an insurance company and became the newly formed entity’s CEO. This opportunity has enabled Rick to fill a void in the market and provide a valuable service to businesses, individuals, and insurance agents who write high-risk business. Prime Insurance also specializes in helping individuals and businesses who live a lifestyle or participate in activities that make them difficult for traditional carriers to insure. If you’ve been denied, non-renewed, or canceled coverage, don’t give up quite yet. Chances are Prime Insurance can help.

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