Most businesses have no difficulty getting insurance in the “standard” insurance market, but if your business has a significant loss history or is engaged in high-risk operations, you might not be able to find insurance in the standard commercial insurance market. This doesn’t mean you’re out of luck as a business owner. Rather, you’ll be looking at the “surplus” lines insurance market for your business insurance.
The surplus lines insurance market, also referred to as the “non-admitted” market, is a segment in the insurance industry where the more difficult or unusual risks are written. Examples of specialized risks include professional liability insurance or high risk business operations such as a manufacturer of medical devices or explosives.
Insurance brokers usually turn to the surplus lines market for their clients after they are denied by at least three state licensed “standard” commercial insurance carriers. Most states identify the standard lines insurance companies as “admitted,” “licensed” or “standard” and the excess and surplus lines insurance companies as “non-admitted,” “unlicensed” or “non-standard.” However, these terms tend to reflect a negative connotation in regards to the strength and security of a surplus lines insurer. The fact of the matter is, most states require surplus lines insurance companies to maintain higher minimum capital levels than they require admitted markets to carry.
As for obtaining insurance for a tough-to-place businesses, the surplus lines insurance market can only be accessed through a specially licensed broker. The broker must have a surplus lines license in order to sell surplus lines insurance. Your broker must provide you with a disclosure notice if your insurance is being issued with a surplus lines company.
Now, for a cheesy analogy to tie this all together, insurance is a lot like love. They say there’s someone out there for everyone. Well when it comes to insurance, there’s an insurance carrier out there for every business. Surplus lines insurance carriers help make the business world go round.