San Francisco–Premium growth in the surplus lines industry was essentially flat in 2004, according to a rating agency report released late last week.

A.M. Best, as it has for a dozen years, published its annual report on the excess and surplus lines market. In the report, the Oldwick, N.J.-based rating agency said that in 2004, direct written surplus lines premiums of $33.0 billion were just 0.65 percent higher than comparable 2003 premiums.

In contrast, direct premiums for the entire industry rose 4.5 percent.

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