Specialist underwriter leads growth through regional brokers

Hardy Underwriting, the specialist Lloyd's insurer, is expanding into commercial and household property business.

The group has taken on property specialist underwriter Tim Bartleet from the Advent Group. Bartleet was at Advent for 21 years and is a recognised leader in the class.

Hardy is best known for its niche underwriting in areas including helicopters, general aviation and cargo.

Its non-marine book traditionally has been small, but since the appointment in October last year of head of non-marine Henry Glasse it grew by about a third. It is expected to increase further for 2004.

Hardy's total underwriting capacity for 2004 is planned to be £115m, up from £100m in 2003.

Bartleet will concentrate on UK business sourced from regional brokers, but will also write international risks.

He said the market in property cover was at its peak, adding: "At the moment I would say rates are the best they've been for a long time. The question is, can we sustain that? Things have changed enough for rates to stay put and people are looking for a profit - and more than 10% or 15%. The pressure is there to keep them up."

The fact that Royal & SunAlliance, traditionally a large insurer of commercial and household property, is still facing difficulties would add to upward pressure on rates.

Bartleet will source business via Lloyd's brokers mainly from UK regional brokers and said he was "always interested in establishing new relationships" with brokers.

He would also give "extremely selective" use of binding authorities.

Before Glasse's appointment, Hardy's non-marine book was known mainly for primary and first excess layers in property catastrophe reinsurance and crop insurance. His appointment broadened the focus to include medical expenses insurance, personal accident reinsurances and bloodstock.

Glasse said: "Tim's speciality fits with our desire to operate across a number of niche areas. He brings with him a wealth of experience, expertise and a superb track record."