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E&S Insurance

E&S Insurance stands for excess and surplus lines insurance, a special kind of coverage for businesses with new or challenging risks that do not fit within standard admitted insurance parameters.

See our E&S coverage >

What is excess and surplus insurance?

Excess and surplus (E&S) insurance is an alternative market for commercial risks that are too complex for standard admitted insurance capabilities. E&S carriers specialize in underwriting harder-to-place, non-standard exposures and developing innovative product structures for complex loss exposures. 

They have more flexibility to craft customized policy terms and conditions unattainable in regulated standard markets. Additionally, E&S insurance offers a broader capacity for multinational coverage offerings. Their surplus line status allows fast transactions without the hindrances of rate approval requirements. 

E&S markets fill critical gaps by employing streamlined underwriting and competitive pricing to insure higher-risk activities that standard carriers shy away from.

With new or complex risks that standard insurance companies haven't written policies on, E&S insurance expands coverage availability. Unusual businesses risk and activities that standard insurers won't underwrite due to factors like higher hazard levels or complex exposures are better in E&S insurance. In 2022, excess and surplus insurance companies reported premiums had increased to $91bn.

an e&s insurance professional making notes

What are excess and surplus lines of insurance?

In E&S insurance, the term "lines" refers to the various commercial risk types or categories covered. Some businesses run operations that require E&S insurance, meaning the risks are too high or unique for the standard insurer.

For example, fire coverage for an oil company may be hard to insure through admitted channels given the complexity and nature of the risk. The following are several E&S insurance examples to help business owners understand what specialized policies might suit their operation given their hazardous activities. Excess and surplus lines of insurance include:

Property lines - Provides coverage for high-value, specialty property exposures like oil rigs, wind farms, and fine art collections.

Casualty lines - Offers liability coverage for hard-to-insure activities and occupations like construction, energy/mining, and healthcare.

Professional liability lines - Includes errors & omissions coverage for professions like architects, real estate agents, computer consultants, etc.

Financial lines - Covers specialized risks like management liability, cyber liability, financial institution bonds, etc.

Specialty lines - A coverage for unique risks like kidnap & ransom, aviation, and marine cargo that span multiple categories.

What's the difference between E&S insurance and standard insurance?

One of the key distinctions between E&S and standard insurance is underwriting flexibility. E&S insurers can underwrite non-standard risks and customize policies with greater freedom, unlike standard insurers, who are bound by strict regulatory guidelines and filed underwriting rules. This allows E&S to more effectively manage complex risks on an individual basis.

Additionally, E&S insurers are willing to take on higher risk exposures that fall outside the risk tolerance thresholds of standard carriers. E&S policies often have broader coverage terms and conditions unavailable in standard forms and filings. 

Standard policies use consistent state-filed forms. E&S can modify coverage/terms to better fit each risk's needs. Therefore, E&S business is conducted outside admitted markets and is less regulated by states than standard commercial insurance.

The ability to underwrite and provide specialized policies for complex risks is the excess and surplus insurance definition that sets it apart from mainstream insurance.

an E&S underwriter using a pen and calculator

How do E&S Insurance companies operate? 

The global business environment continues to be complex, and so are insurance needs. Traditional insurance becomes insufficient in covering new and high-risk insurance needs, and E&S insurance comes into operation in the following ways:

  1. Risk Assessment: E&S underwriters conduct detailed risk reviews using their extensive knowledge of hazard exposures and tailor underwriting for each non-standard risk.

  2. Claims Handling: Claims adjusters have expertise in hazards like energy/mining accidents and professional liability issues. They have the autonomy to resolve complex claims without standard constraints efficiently.

  3. Policy Creation: Policies are not standard forms. Experienced underwriters creatively structure coverage, limits, and terms to meet each client's unique insurance needs.

  4. Premium Calculation: Rates are flexibly priced based on the risk assessment rather than standardized rate tables. Actuaries design customized pricing models to reflect each risk profile accurately. Rates aim to appropriately reflect the statistical probability and projected costs of potential future losses for each customized risk scenario.

  5. Regulatory Compliance: While regulated, E&S insurers face fewer requirements than admitted carriers, allowing fast responses to the specialized risks they serve.

What types of businesses need E&S insurance? 

Some companies need this type of commercial insurance coverage due to the nature of their operations or locations. Sometimes, they may be handling a new tech whose risks may be unknown, and standard insurers don't cover them. In such instances, E&S insurance specialists can underwrite the risks.

These include businesses involved in energy production, resource extraction, large-scale construction projects, specialized manufacturing, and complex professional services. E&S insurance is often more suitable for risks in these sectors due to factors like non-standard risk characteristics, complex and technical exposures, multinational operations, and large policy limit requirements.

Common types of enterprises seeking E&S coverage include energy and mining firms, engineering and infrastructure contractors, chemical and industrial manufacturers, healthcare organizations with high-risk service lines, etc. The underwriting expertise and flexible risk solutions provided by E&S insurers are a better fit for these specialized commercial policyholders.

Unlock New Insights with Insurance Insider US

To discover more insights from industry experts discussing topics like E&S insurance, compliance in the insurance industry , webinars with E&S insurers, and discussion from experts on niche topics, visit the Insurance Insider US website.