Surplus lines premium increased 22 percent and transactions rebounded almost 6.6 percent over their 2020 totals in the 15 states with designated surplus lines stamping offices.
The increases represented record levels of premium ($51 billion) and transactions (5.3 million) since the stamping offices began reporting aggregated data on an annual and semi-annual basis. Each state reported double-digit premium increases, with Illinois leading the way at over 40 percent.
David Ocasek, CEO of the Surplus Line Association of Illinois, said, “Our numbers were incredibly strong, especially in the third and fourth quarters. General and excess liability categories, including commercial general liability, cyber, pollution, products and employment practices liability, led the way with a 60 percent increase versus prior year. Property, including all risk, increased 23 percent.”
North Carolina recorded the third highest premium increases of the stamping office states at almost 35 percent. “We saw greater than 100 percent increases in premium on classes of business such as cyber liability, excess personal liability and miscellaneous liability,” said Geoff Allen, chief operating officer of the North Carolina Surplus Lines Association. “The largest increase in the number of transactions filed for a class of business in 2021 was primary residential flood insurance.”
California, the country’s largest surplus lines insurance market, reported premium increases of 18 percent and a 7 percent increase in transactions. David Kodama, executive vice president of the California SLA, said, “The SLA recorded significant increases in item count and average premium for various coverages, including cyber, property and commercial auto. This growth coincides with reported increased activity in data breaches, ransomware attacks, wildfires, increased auto loss severity, and emerging social and cost inflation.”
Even though transactions haven’t kept pace with premium, each state increased their total transactions over 2020, with the exception of Texas.
Western states such as Idaho and Utah led the way with transaction increases of 23 percent and 13 percent, respectively, likely due to their substantial increases in population growth. In all, the stamping office data indicates that the surplus lines industry continues to thrive as the economy recovers and inflation continues upward.
“The data is quite telling and confirms what many industry leaders have been saying for the last two years,” said Dan Maher, executive director of the Excess Line Association of New York. “Premiums on renewals have increased substantially, and at the same time the admitted market has retrenched in several areas, which is causing business to shift to the E&S market. The shift is across numerous lines of business from property with cat loss exposures to liability risks such as excess, umbrella, D&O and cyber where social inflation and new exposures are of serious concern. I see a lot of new capacity in the E&S market, which should moderate or stabilize pricing as that capacity is deployed in 2022.”
Stamping office states accounted for 63 percent of the total U.S. surplus lines premium volume in 2020. State stamping and service offices are nongovernmental entities that play a vital role in the surplus lines industry by facilitating compliance with surplus lines insurance regulations and tax filings as well as additional services for their respective memberships. These statistics are gathered and reported individually by each state stamping office and the data is aggregated and summarized by WSIA on their behalf.