Brockbank Syndicate Management is the lead Lloyd's underwriter covering the hull of the Greek ferry, the Express Samina, which sank off Paros last week with the loss of 79 lives. Brockbank would not disclose the amount of the claim.

Claims from passengers and crew are being handled by international protection and indemnity club, West of England. Its claims director, Michael Stevenson, said it was one of the bigger claims the company had handled in terms of fatalities. "In terms of money, it's too early to say," he said.

He confirmed that the risk was reinsured into a pool of international clubs.

The Express Samina is only one of a number of shipping disasters in Greece in the past week. The ferry Express Artemis run aground with more than 1,000 passengers aboard and an elderly US tourist died when a yacht sank off Naxos. A container ship also ran aground off the island of Psarra.

The Greek government has banned 65 ships from sailing. It said they failed to meet European safety standards.