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What's New with the SLA

  • The SLA’s Advocacy Team Represents The Industry At Key Hearings and Events

    Apr 04, 2019

    The SLA’s advocacy team was in action on Wednesday, April 3, as CEO Benjamin McKay and the SLA’s Communications and Government Relations team represented the industry at two important hearings.

    At the request of committee staff, McKay testified before the State Senate Insurance Committee in Sacramento during an informational hearing on the insurance industry. The purpose of the hearing was to give new committee members a briefing about the various facets of the industry. McKay explained the surplus lines industry to the committee and also provided an update on the increased homeowners’ insurance business going into the surplus lines market in recent years, a key issue for California legislators. In so doing, he demonstrated the SLA’s value as a credible source of marketplace information and data on important and timely issues. Communications and Government Relations specialist Caroline Gilbert joined McKay in representing the SLA at this hearing.

    Cliston Brown, vice president, Communications and Government Relations, attended a hearing of the Commission on Catastrophic Wildfire Cost and Recovery in Santa Rosa, a Sonoma County community that suffered massive wildfire losses in 2017. Mindful of the increased role for surplus lines in the homeowners markets after major wildfire years, Brown attended to monitor the discussions and to correct any erroneous statements that may have been made about the surplus lines industry. Fortunately, no speakers during the hearing presented any misinformation about surplus lines. Prior to the hearing, Brown worked with the Personal Insurance Federation of California (PIFC), which testified at the hearing, to ensure that it had the most recent available statistics on the role of surplus lines in the state’s homeowners insurance market.

    Brown also attended the PIFC’s Legislative Reception a week earlier in Sacramento, discussing the basics of the surplus lines industry with numerous state legislators and Governor Gavin Newsom. 

    Additionally, McKay and Brown are regulars at the thrice-yearly National Association of Insurance Commissioners’ meetings, and both sit on important committees of the Wholesale and Specialty Insurance Association (WSIA). McKay sits on WSIA’s Legislative Committee, and Brown has just been named a member of its Political Action Committee. 

    The SLA’s attendance at, and participation in, these events gives us an opportunity to make the surplus lines sector known to key decision makers whose votes, rulings and/or recommendations may impact our industry. This is just one of the important ways we work to support our members and to advance a healthy, fair and competitive surplus lines marketplace in California.

  • The SLA’s Cliston Brown Meets Governor, Key Legislators at PIFC Legislative Reception in Sacramento March 27, 2019

    Mar 28, 2019

    Cliston Brown, the SLA’s vice president for Communications and Government Relations, represented the SLA on March 27, 2019, at the Personal Insurance Federation of California’s 30th Annual Legislative Reception in Sacramento. Cliston talked with several key legislators and Governor Gavin Newsom about the SLA and the California surplus lines marketplace. The SLA is engaged in an ongoing awareness campaign to help educate lawmakers about our industry and the vital role it plays in protecting Californians.

  • Surplus Line Association of California Formally Elects 2019 Board

    Mar 22, 2019
    Insurance Journal published an announcement on March 19, 2019, that the Surplus Line Association of California formally elected its 2019 Board.

    The members of the Surplus Line Association of California have reelected Robert Gilbert of Markel West Insurance Services as chair of the SLA board of directors.

    Gilbert’s election was finalized after the SLA tallied the final ballots from members who were unable to attend the SLA Annual Meeting, which took place Feb. 5 and Feb. 7 in San Francisco and Los Angeles respectively.

    To read the article in its entirety, please click here.
  • Insurance Journal Publishes Article By SLA Executive Director Ben McKay on December 17th, 2018

    Dec 18, 2018
    SLA Executive Director, Ben McKay, penned an article titled, "Covering Cannabis in California" that was published in Insurance Journal on December 17th, 2018.

    "The Surplus Line Association of California is seeing tremendous interest from our members in insuring cannabis. In fact, there has been so much interest that the SLA plans to offer a continuing education course on cannabis in 2019.

    It is a constant, ongoing discussion in our industry. Our members want to know about the pertinent regulations and rules, the unique risks posed by the industry, and how to insure what is still largely a cash-based business — due to the uncertainties about how the federal government will treat bank deposits for an industry that is still illegal at the federal level. Another reason this issue is so widely discussed is because it’s highly complex. There are numerous facets, all requiring their own coverage: the plants; the buildings; the transportation; and many other links in the chain."

    To read the article in its entirety, please click here.

  • SLA's Benjamin McKay Testifies At CDI's Export List Hearing Wednesday, August 22, 2018

    Aug 23, 2018

    The California Department of Insurance (CDI) held an Export List hearing on Wednesday, August 22, pursuant to the new law enacted in 2017 enabling the department to hold multiple hearings if needed and to consider new, innovative products for which an adequate and reasonable admitted insurance market has not yet developed.

    SLA Executive Director Benjamin McKay testified, reiterating that the new law, proposed and lobbied successfully by the SLA last year, gives the department greater expressed authority to add coverages to the list, and that this will help facilitate coverage for the wide array of new technologies and products in which California is among the world's leaders. He also reported that all coverages on the Export List have been utilized for the past five years and updated the CDI on the top five Export List coverages by premium and item for the past full 12 months. These were as follows:

    Top five Export List coverages by premium (August 1, 2017-July 31, 2018):

    • Commercial DIC/Stand-Alone Earthquake: $643,472,317
    • Excess Liability Where Part of Underlying Is Nonadmitted: $308,896,448
    • Individual Insureds with Large Schedules: $225,300,069
    • Environmental Impairment Remediation/Pollution Liability: $202,630,459
    • Employment Practices Liability: $176,248,800

    Top five Export List coverages by item count (August 1, 2017-July 31, 2018):

    • Commercial DIC/Stand-Alone Earthquake: 26,793
    • Employment Practices Liability: 16,469
    • Excess Liability Where Part of Underlying is Nonadmitted: 10,528
    • Environmental Impairment Remediation/Pollution Liability:10,277
    • International Major Medical: 7,585

    The only new addition to either list is the emergence of international major medical among the top five Export List coverages in item count, supplanting vacant buildings.

    Also at the hearing, the top coverage on the list (commercial DIC/stand-alone earthquake) came up for debate, with some insurers asking that it be removed from the list because they believe an adequate and reasonable admitted market has developed. Representatives of ICW Group and Golden Bear Insurance Company testified that this coverage should be taken off of the list, while a representative of Worldwide Facilities said that only three admitted markets, lacking the higher ratings that some banks need to approve mortgages, are currently writing it, and one of those products is a mix of admitted and nonadmitted.

    In response to statements implying that the admitted market is more solvent than the surplus lines market, attorney Dan Brown of Drinker Biddle told the CDI that no surplus line insurer had become insolvent in about 15 years.

    Additionally, representatives of Ascend Insurance Solutions asked the CDI to add third-party liability and physical damage coverage for unmanned aerial vehicles (i.e., drones) while in flight and not-in-flight. The CDI will now consider both requests and announce its decisions at an unspecified date. The SLA will inform its membership of the CDI's decisions.

    To see the current Export List, please go to: And to see more about the dynamic California surplus lines marketplace, visit us at