Chaucer Holdings reported a positive start to the year as it announced forecasts and results for its Lloyd's operation.

The specialist Lloyd's insurer said the 2004 year of account had begun with gross written premiums ahead of the total for the same period in 2003. Pricing remained strong.

The 2003 Syndicate forecast ranges had all improved, with initial ranges either equal to or better than those for 2002 at the same stage.

Chaucer merged Syndicates 587 and 1096 into Syndicate 1084 for the 2004 year of account. The merged syndicate has an underwriting capacity of £400.2m, compared to a combined total capacity of £387.8m for 2003.

High premium rates and low claims experience in 2002 and 2003 should produce excellent returns for both years in respect of marine Syndicate 1084 and non-marine Syndicate 1096, said Chaucer.

The two syndicates closed within previously forecast ranges for the 2001 year of account.

Chaucer said Syndicate 1176 traded in line with business expectations during 2003, its first year with Chaucer. Premium income is on target to reach capacity and claims experience remains within budgeted loss ratios, the group said.