Professional indemnity (PI) specialist Houston Casualty Company Diversified Financial Products (HCCD), formerly Dickson Manchester, is to begin a drive for business in the emerging risks sector.

The move will see it go head-to-head with specialist insurer Hiscox.

Business consultancies, recruitment, media and technology companies are to be targeted by the agency.

The company is aiming to write 40% more business in this area in 2005.

HCCD chief executive Charles Manchester said: "It's an area where you see a lot of start-up companies, and it is a growth sector. It is often the first time that people have bought PI cover.

"It will increase by as much as 100% in some areas, but across the board, we are looking to increase the business we write by 35%-40% over the next year," said Manchester.

He said the increase would also be the result of the maintenance, or even reduction, of HCCD's involvement in high-risk PI classes.

But Manchester said, as market situations stood, the company was happy to remain in all classes.

Business consultants, technology companies and miscellaneous business currently make up about 40% of HCCD's gross written premiums, said Manchester, which last year was £40m.

The emerging PI market typically includes professions such as business consultancy services, including recruitment, health and safety, and training consultants.

The sector also includes media, communication and technology companies.