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.

"From a broad perspective, I would characterize the E&S market as a transitional one, with a lot of businesses under duress," said Derek Broaddus, senior vice president for excess casualty at Allied World. "Loss-sensitive accounts are seeing upward pressure on price." On the other hand, Broaddus is still seeing soft market behavior. "For the most part, I could consider the market to be transitional and leaning toward increasing rates and restricted terms."

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