Five members of Independent Insurance's London market PI team have defected to The Underwriter.

The Independent team of two underwriters and three support staff responded as soon as they saw the job advertisements in Insurance Times, and will take up their new roles at The Underwriter – which only launched on the London market six weeks ago – by June next year.

The underwriters involved are Chris Mauduit, Independent's professional indemnity underwriter in the London market, and Terry Kerrison, Independent's financial institutions underwriter. They have also taken their deputy underwriters, Dominic Frost and Christine Igoe, with them as well as an administrative team member.

Together the team is responsible for an account said to be worth £20 million annually and the departures will create a massive hole in Independent's London PI expertise.

All five were originally with Agon, but subsequently worked under Keith Rutter, The Underwriter's chief executive, when Independent took over Agon.

Rutter admitted that he had made PI underwriter appointments, but refused to provide any details.

He said: "I can confirm that we have now appointed a new professional indemnity team for the London market. I am delighted with the people we have got but I don't feel it is appropriate to go into details at this stage."

Independent's marketing manager Graham Sutton said: "It is true we have lost two underwriters and their support staff from our PI team of 19. But they are on six-month contracts and we are already taking steps to replace them.

"I do not know the reason for their departure, or where they are going, but this is not uncommon in the London market. The overall PI team is fairly big anyway and no doubt we will start to bring the team back up to 18 or 19."

The five handed in their notice last week, although Sutton said they would stay at Independent until June. News of the departures hit the market on Friday.

Rutter, a highly-respected underwriter himself, said he was now on the lookout for two risk managers, and three more underwriters to bring his operation up to full-strength.

Since its launch six weeks ago, The Underwriter has exceeded expectations. Rutter said the new company had already written around £1m worth of premiums and had "almost been trying to duck the demand from brokers".

The defections come just one week after Independent scooped best insurer and a number of other accolades at the annual Insurance Industry awards.