New Gibraltar insurer awaits approval to write in UK

The first insurance company writing primary commercial lines from Gibraltar into the UK is hoping to gain its licence in the next few weeks.

It is understood that the company will have a capacity of up to £15m in its first year.

A senior market source said that the underwriter was looking at underwriting small and medium sized business with premiums up to £25,000.

Former Markel underwriter Danny Gibson is understood to be one of five directors involved in the operation.

The market source said: "Brokers and private investors are funding the company and the wholesale brokers are looking to sell through a dozen or so specialist SME brokers. The foundations look solid with some well-respected reinsurers backing the proposal."

It is understood that the insurer will use an end-to-end internet delivery system, involving a quote engine and policy fulfilment online.

Chris Collins, head of insurance supervision at Gibraltar's Financial Services Commission, said that a licence had not yet been granted for the insurer. He commented that the capacity would not be as high as £15m but refused to comment further.

Danny Gibson, who has been in Gibraltar this week, said that he could not comment until the licence had been approved.

Steve Watts, a director of Holgate, a broker connected to the new venture, said: "We are all well aware of the current problems surrounding the UK liability markets, with increasing litigation costs and huge rate increases very often levied indiscriminately across whole classes of business, rather than selective underwriting rewarding healthy clean risks.

"It is refreshing to see a new insurer prepared to embrace the concept of back-to-basics, underwriting the risk rather than the class. It is early days, but we as brokers wholeheartedly welcome the approach.

"At Holgate we see the whole gambit of woes on a daily basis, and often it is a case of, can you place it at all, followed by how much?

"The responsible broker will do his utmost to keep his client in business at a fair price."

There are currently 35 companies with a licence to carry on insurance business in Gibraltar, including Admiral, Saga Insurance Company and Professional Travel Insurance.