In disaster-prone states, insurance carriers are faced with a basic math reality: They cannot net enough in premiums to justify underwriting large and looming risks, particularly in areas of concentrated wealth. At least not the way they had done previously, which is through state-governed channels that largely determined rates and offerings—a type of coverage termed “admitted.”
In California, for example, state regulations prevent carriers from modifying contracts or excluding particular coverage—say, for wildfires—from policies. Nor are they allowed to raise rates in riskier zones without the review and approval from the state. This makes it virtually impossible for carriers to offer coverage that makes economic sense. The proliferation of sophisticated mapping and risk-rating software make the precarious situation even more evident to carriers.
As a result, the industry has become more innovative in serving clients in disaster-prone areas, including exploring coverage options that are not governed by the state—a type of coverage termed “non-admitted.” This allows for greater flexibility within the tight margins they face, a strategy we believe will only grow more common in the evolving risk landscape.
To that end, we want to educate you further about these options, and help you understand why non-admitted solutions may be beneficial for your portfolio, starting with a clear explanation of the terms:
States regulate the insurance industry, so carriers that are either based or do business in a specific state, must abide by that state’s rules to be “admitted.” These rules and regulations are largely designed to ensure that carriers:
- Are currently and will remain solvent, or able to pay out claims.
- Provide fair treatment to all consumers.
In many ways, this arrangement is beneficial to both the carrier and client alike: The state’s imprimatur lends the carrier legitimacy, and that legitimacy puts potential clients at ease. Furthering that sense of trust: the fact that the state will honor claims should the carrier become insolvent, or unable to pay claims.
This describes carriers who opt out of the admission process described above so that they have the freedom to determine their own rates and coverage. These “non-admitted” carriers can still do business in a state; however, they do not earn that states seal of approval, and the state will not reimburse or assist their customers if the carrier is unable to make payouts on claims.
Such carriers offer an important benefit to some consumers: customization. Since they are not beholden to state-controlled standards, non-admitted carriers can more readily offer useful policies to clients whose loss history or location otherwise makes them a coverage risk. For example, consider a client who has had three water losses in as many years and is currently unable to obtain a policy with an admitted carrier. A non-admitted carrier can issue a policy with a high water-loss deductible, offering the client some level of protection while also adhering to the carrier’s business goals and financial health.
To be very clear, non-admitted status is not an indication that a carrier will not be able to pay out claims from losses. In fact, many non-admitted carriers have been previously validated by well-respected private auditing agencies such as A.M. Best. With a little research, consumers and brokers can definitively verify the standing of non-admitted firms.
What This Means for You
In this challenging market, where our goal is to provide you the best possible protection, we maintain relationships with both admitted and non-admitted insurance providers. Of course, we are sensitive to the concern some clients may have about non-admitted coverage. Rest assured, we are diligent in our selection of partners. It is also helpful to keep in mind that, in the end, non-admitted insurance providers are just as incentivized to satisfy clients as admitted ones are.
We want you to be able to rely on us to find the best possible coverage options for you and believe that the agility embedded in non-admitted policies makes them a valuable option for many clients. If your account executive suggests a non-admitted policy, know that they will explain why it is the right option and why you can be comfortable trusting it.