The specialty insurance marketplace always has been a vast laboratory for nascent products. It once was a tiny market. Those days are over. Today, with tens of billions in premiums in the U.S. market, specialty is for more than unique and emerging risks. And it is attracting new carriers and underwriting talent.

Executive Summary

Specialty is not a short-term play for Westfield, a property/casualty insurer started by a group of farmers back in 1848. Westfield leaders Ed Largent and Jack Kuhn explain the company's recently announced strategy to expand into specialty lines, giving their take on why the time is right for companies like Westfield to expand and how they are leveraging a culture focused on collaboration—not single star performers—and staying true to business values of underwriting profits and financial stability.

Specialty is a dynamic marketplace, evolving and overlapping in the standard property/casualty area. Today, many commercial insurance operations such as Westfield write both admitted and nonadmitted business. As specialty categories expand, there’s less distinction between standard and nonstandard lines. There’s an ebb and flow, especially in larger customer accounts. An account could show up in standard lines; other times you see it in E&S.

Over the years, specialty has been poised to jump in and provide cover, risk transfer and other mechanisms for emerging risks. As the world changes—COVID-19 and cyber-related risks are excellent examples—specialty is better equipped than standard policies to initially move into those new areas. Complex business customers require specialty kinds of coverage, and there always will be an underwriting opportunity there. Globally, that’s a good message for society.

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