The new figures, revealed by Lloyd's yesterday, compare with a high of almost 32,000 in 1988, before the market faced a wave of claims that have almost brought it to its knees.
Insurance underwriting capacity, the maximum amount of premium income the market can underwrite, will also dip from almost pounds 10.2bn last year to about pounds 9.85bn in 1996.
The shift towards corporate underwriting was given fresh emphasis by the announcement that individual members will contribute about pounds 6.85bn, or 69 per cent, towards the amount. This compares with pounds 7.8bn, or 77 per cent ,the previous year, when just under 15,000 names were prepared to underwrite the market.
Corporate capacity, which is increasing from pounds 2.36bn this year to more than pounds 3bn in 1996, is being provided by 165 members in 71 corporate member groups. New corporate members, 25 in all, have enough funds to underwrite pounds 363m of capacity, while an extra pounds 289m has been allocated to existing corporate members.
Despite the names' exodus, David Rowland, chairman of Lloyd's, declared himself satisfied with the new figures. "[They] clearly demonstrate the resilience of both the traditional membership and the established and new corporate members," he said.
"Corporate capacity at Lloyd's has now virtually doubled since it commenced underwriting in 1994. We take all this as a strong vote of confidence in Lloyd's at a time of radical change."
Mr Rowland said he also understood the reasons for a tail-off in underwriting capacity. "The allocated figures reflect the managing agents' views of this stage of the insurance cycle, when rates are under pressure in some areas," he said.Reuse content