Lloyd's insurer scales back involvement in sector, blaming market conditions

Amlin's position as market leader in the fine art and specie field could come under pressure after losing its highly regarded class underwriter, Insurance Times has learned.

Keith Nichols, who was considered by the Lloyd's insurer as the person responsible for its leading position in the specie market, has departed the company after Amlin decided to scale back its underwriting in the sector.

In an internal memo, seen by Insurance Times, the company admitted: "Amlin's appetite for specie has diminished in recent months in light of the market not responding to recent events, and this appetite does not match Keith's experience within specie or his ambitions for the future."

Nichols' departure is seen as a blow to Amlin as it is recognised as a leading syndicate within the fine art and general specie field with one of the biggest books of business in the market.

According to the memo, Amlin will continue to write the class of business, and Nichols, who has worked for the group and its predecessors – Murray Lawrence, BPC and J H Minet – for 30 years, willl be replaced by Rod Little as class underwriter.

Amlin's specie portfolio includes companies producing precious metals and stones from the largest gold and diamond mines around the world.

It is also part of an expanding marine division, which reported a 22% increase in gross written premiums in 2006 to £210.8m.