Hiscox has acquired the rights to renew Chartwell Underwriting's £20m book of specialist liability business for £500,000.

Under the deal Chartwell, a wholly owned subsidiary of US insurer Trenwick Re, will transfer 30 staff that currently operate from offices in Leeds, Glasgow, Birmingham, Chelmsford and London, to Hiscox.

But managing director Michael Earp will not transfer to Hiscox, and Chartwell will be managing its own claims run-off. Hiscox chief executive Bronek Masojada said the regional book will complement its London market underwriting.

Hiscox already has offices outside London in Paris, Munich, Amsterdam, Guernsey and Harrogate. The continental offices achieved 62% growth in written premium in 1999.

Masojada said: "We have two particular opportunities from this deal: we will be able to cross sell our specialist products to Chartwell's partner brokers, and we will be able to firm up our market leadership in key areas of the UK's specialist insurance market."

Insurance Times first revealed the Chartwell book was up for sale in May when Independent were touted as favourites.

Chairman Jeremy Adams admitted the company was being stalked by a number of its rivals.

Chartwell has been dogged by the soft liability market for several years, and has been subsequently paring down its agency base from 5,000 to 1,500.

The company switched to a new lead underwriter, The Underwriter, in a bid to boost profitability.

The Hiscox deal is expected to be completed by the end of this month.