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Specialty lines evolving

Posted On: Sep. 4, 2017 12:00 AM CST

Cyber liability insurance and representation and warranties coverages are among the “hot topics” continuing to attract excess and surplus lines market participants’ attention, experts say.

“Cyber is very hot. That’s the number one thing people are talking about,” said James Drinkwater, property/casualty brokerage division president of AmWINS Group Inc. in New York.

“There’s plenty of entrants into that marketplace and the wording for the coverage varies widely by company,” he said.

Ten years ago, few people bought cyber insurance, said Christopher Cavallaro, CEO at Jericho, New York-based wholesaler ARC Excess & Surplus L.L.C.

Today, 40% to 45% of companies buy some of that coverage, “and that’s a growing number,” said Mr. Cavallaro, who estimates it is a $4 billion product.

Cyber is a “burgeoning new exposure bringing new buyers into the market,” said Bruce Kessler, Alpharetta, Georgia-based division president at Westchester Surplus Lines Insurance Co., a unit of Chubb Ltd.

“There’s clearly a need for the product as exposures grow. We will see a big growth within that in the wholesale space as new buyers come in,” he said.

“We are seeing many of our partner client companies, particularly in the delegated authority arena, asking us to help develop a cyber product, which we are engaged in doing,” said David W. Schraeder, Houston-based senior vice president of the custom accounts division at Hartford Steam Boiler Inspection & Insurance Co., a unit of Munich Reinsurance Co.

“The cyber world is in a continuous state of creativity because the losses and exposures continue to evolve and change,” so policy forms and terms and conditions “are in a constant stage of being created and manuscripted,” said Timothy W. Turner, Chicago-based president and CEO of R-T Specialty L.L.C., a division of Ryan Specialty Group L.L.C.

Andy Swenson, New York-based head of Zurich Wholesale and Surplus, a unit of Zurich Insurance Group Ltd., said he has seen a broadening of cyber coverage, including for system failure and social engineering, “blending coverages together in ways they haven’t been before.”

Cyber insurance remains largely an E&S product, say experts. Many policyholders have to buy it on a nonadmitted basis because they need flexibility to incorporate certain wordings and do not have that ability in the admitted market, said Mr. Cavallaro.

Another “hot” product, although not new, is representation and warranties insurance, which protects against breaches of the representations and other assertions in purchase agreements.

Jeffrey Cowhey, New York-based co-founder and president of Ambridge Partners L.L.C., a transactional insurance managing general underwriter, said the product has become increasingly popular over the past five to 10 years, driven largely by private equity investors. “It breeds a measure of comfort and familiarity,” he said.

Hank Haldeman, president of Anaheim, California-based G.J. Sullivan Co., an excess and surplus lines broker, said medical and recreational marijuana use, and how to insure it, are topics of discussion as well.

“There’s lots of speculation of what will happen when we get to the point of full legalization of recreational marijuana use in California, because of how big a state it is,” he said.

“Right now, we’re in the process of watching the state, trying to figure out exactly how it’s going to regulate it, and the nonadmitted market is watching that very, very closely,” Mr. Haldeman said.

Eric Blecker, Hartford, Connecticut-based president of Northfield, a unit of Travelers Cos. Inc., said one promising area of potential new products involves creative solutions to “peer-to-peer sharing economy risks” associated with the gig economy.

These would include, for instance, the risks associated with gig employers renting out office space. “What are the exposures?” he asked.

Another example would be insurance for the extension of ride-sharing arrangements beyond taxi-like services to transportation of goods or animals — for example, transportation of horses, where one party has a horse and another a trailer.

There is also lot of discussion about autonomous vehicles and how they will affect insurance, “although that’s off in the future,” said Mr. Haldeman, adding there has also been continuing market discussion about coverage for drones.