Rates have fallen but claims are still low, giving a good outlook for 2004, said Lloyd's giant Amlin.

Despite the overall benign picture, Amlin chief executive Charles Philipps warned of several reasons for insurers to keep underwriting for profit.

A company statement listed expectations of reserving issues for legacy casualty business, low bond yields depressing investment returns and downgrades from rating agencies.

The company admitted Amlin's Syndicate 2001 had experienced "modest reductions" in rates compared to 2003.

Renewals in property insurance and reinsurance segments had been satisfactory while there had been improvements in marine, non-airline aviation and liability classes, Philipps said.

This was against a background of 2002 and 2003 being "two of the best underwriting years the syndicate has experienced".

Amlin said it had not renewed a £100m quota share facility, but kept its capacity at £1bn for 2004 with the group's share of the syndicate increasing to 100% from 84% in 2003.

Philipps said: "The strength of the recent renewal season supports our previously stated view that the outlook for 2004 is very good."