Specialist buyers are snapping up run-off companies because they can be rapidly completed via schemes of arrangement.

PricewaterhouseCoopers (PWC) insurance insolvency specialists Paul Evans and Dan Schwarzmann were speaking at the Association of Run-off Companies (ARC) lunch.

They said there had been rapid growth in the number of sales of run-off companies to speciality buyers such as management groups and consortiums.

Schwarzmann said the purchases were becoming more popular because the buyers were now able to use schemes of arrangement to rapidly complete the run-off.

"You're only going to buy it if you can make money out of it, and increasingly there is a way of closing it down quickly," he said.

Schwarzmann said it was often beneficial for the wider insurance market for run-off firms to be sold to specialists.

"They're likely to have a much greater emphasis on early finality, which perhaps didn't exist before," he said.

ARC treasurer Philip Grant said there were at least 200 run-off companies available in the market for sale to the right bidder.

But Grant, who headed the run-off of Chester Street Insurance Holdings and Skandia Insurance Services, said it was vital to thoroughly research the business before buying.