Rising prices on high-risk accounts, continuing activity by standard carriers and the development of more innovative products signal a gradual hardening trend in an E&S market that continues to be strong and vibrant.
These trends make E&S a great engine for independent agents looking to grow territory or increase specialty markets.
For the umbrella excess E&S space, the worst is over in terms of rate deterioration, he said. Citing a recent MarketScout report on umbrella excess, the line is "flat for the first time since 2005. This is good news." His observations of the market also support this notion. "Of course, this doesn’t mean that we are in a hard market," he said. "However, we are heartened by the fact that it is clearly not getting worse, and there is hope that rates are turning around." Torus is asking for and getting rate increases, he said. "It’s not large percentages, but we are able to capture additional rates compared to exposure base," Trimble said.
Standard Market Competition
Several experts say it’s a good time for agents to establish relationships with wholesalers and offer some strategies to select the best relationships.
"I’ll start out by stating the obvious which is, of course, to work through your ‘neighborhood wholesaler,’" Trimble said. "Wholesalers are a great resource for umbrella excess. For one reason, they give retailers access to additional markets and capacity. They also offer a more diverse appetite for risk than retailers will find in the standard marketplace."