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Lloyd's to launch recruitment drive for Names

MEMBERS' AGENTS at Lloyd's insurance market are set to launch a major recruitment drive to attract more "Names", the private investors whose numbers have dwindled since many were bankrupted by huge losses in the early 1990s.

The Association of Lloyd's Members (ALM) says new-style Names will not have to accept the traditional unlimited liability when underwriting insurance policies, and agents will highlight how the typical investor can set up a limited liability company or partnership.

Figures released yesterday showed that the underwriting capacity provided by Names has levelled out, at pounds 3.2bn for 2000 compared with pounds 3.4bn this year, after falling at a rate of around pounds 1bn annually in recent years.

The huge losses of 1988-1992 prompted an exodus of about 30,000 Names, but as existing investors switch their funds into limited liability vehicles there will be an estimated 5,200 private individuals in the Lloyd's insurance market next year.

The capacity provided through these limited liability vehicles has topped pounds 1bn for the first time, and the ALM expects private individuals to start shouldering more of Lloyd's underwriting business overall again in 2001.

Members' agents are set to target Names who have quit the market in recent years, and are developing new limited liability vehicles to maximise the financial benefits of investing in the insurance market.

"In effect there has been a survival of the fittest at Lloyd's, and the members who picked syndicates and agents that were honest and competent have survived," ALM chairman Michael Deeny said.

Although Lloyd's plunged back into the red in 1998, and losses are expected to continue at least until 2001, the ALM estimates that 90 per cent of the burden has fallen on the corporate insurers who account for three- quarters of capacity. These have been buying up underwriting capacity from Names who wanted to leave the weakest syndicates.

Mr Deeny said: "As the trading conditions improve, Names, old and new, will be increasing their capacity to replace some of the corporate capacity that is now withdrawing after significant losses."