The bosses of two of Britain's leading software houses are the insurance industry's highest earners according to the Sunday Times Pay List 2000.

The list of Britain's reputed top 500 earners is headed by Formula 1 boss Bernie Ecclestone with earnings of £617m this year.

Stephen Verrall, chief executive of Policy Master, is the highest earning insurance executive at number 127 with an income of £7.2m in 2000.

Verrall's rise began at 21, when he set up his own insurance brokerage, Verrall's, after leaving a Birmingham insurance firm he joined from school. He went on to start the software house Policy Master three years later in 1984.

Following its successful launch on the stock market last year, Verrall cashed in some £6.9m worth of stock in April, 2000. On top of this he is reported to have received £128,000 in dividends and a salary of £144,000 this year.

Misys chairman Kevin Lomax is the second highest earning insurance executive and number 270 in the top 500 list with an income of around £2.5m.

Lomax was 30 when he co-founded Misys, which produces Screentrade software, in 1979 with several insurance broker colleagues in modest premises at Worcester railway station. He joined the software firm full-time in 1985 and is now one of the longest-serving chairmen of a FTSE-100 company.

His earnings in 2000 reached £2.5m after he sold two tranches of Misys shares in February, making a total gain of £1.96m.

Lomax is also reported to have received a salary this year of £367,000 and performance-related bonuses of £286,000.

Independent Insurance chairman Michael Bright with reported earnings of £2.3m at number 343 is the only other insurance entry in the top 500 list.

According to the Sunday Times, Bright received a salary of £1.69m this year, including a contribution to his pension of £552,000. He also received dividends worth £688,000.