A combination of excess capital, much of it from non-traditional sources, and, to a lesser extent, the ability to put data and analytics to better use means the E&S industry can absorb larger losses than ever before.

Given the number of new entrants armed with so much capital trying to get a return for their investors, a competitive market has taken root that would require a major catastrophic loss event to alter the current playing field.

E&S market rankings show how competitive this line has become. When ranked by company, AIG's Lexington Insurance Co. saw a decrease in both direct premium wirtten (by about $220 million from 2013) and market share (by 1.2 percentage points), but still retains the No. 1 position. Nationwide's Scottsdale Insurance Co. increased its DPW by about $100 million from 2013, but holds the same market share as it did in 2013. Zurich's Steadfast Insurance Co. held steady and saw a modest increase of about $10 million in 2014, while AIG Specialty Insurance Co. took close to a $190 million hit and lost 0.7 percentage points in market share. Ironshore moves up two spots from 2013 to take the No. 5 ranking this year, with an increase of about $150 million in DPW.

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