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The surplus lines market carries more risk than purchasing insurance in the admitted market; therefore the states imposed a second level of licensing. An insurance producer must have their property and casualty insurance license before seeking licensure as a surplus lines producer. Surplus Lines Producer Licensing is available to both residents and non-residents.
The producer must establish that coverage is not available from the admitted market before going to the surplus lines market. “Not available” often means that the coverage, under the terms requested by the policyholder can not be found in the admitted market. Coverage is not considered unavailable if it could be obtained in the admitted market but at a higher premium.
To determine whether or not such coverage is available in the admitted market a diligent search is performed. This requires a producer to obtain a specific declination of coverage from a certain number of admitted companies engaged in writing the type of coverage sought. If no company is writing this type of insurance, the producer must approach those companies who would most likely write the type of coverage sought.