Rates are set to soar this year in both the personal and commercial lines markets, according to five of the UK's biggest insurers.

Speaking at a Biba conference in Birmingham, a panel of representatives from Zurich Commercial, Allianz Cornhill, CGU, Royal & SunAlliance and Norwich Union claimed writing for profit would be their one of their top priorities in the coming year.

Gary Faulkner, liability and car accounts manager for RSA said: "We are currently working on the re-pricing of our commercial book.

"As a market we are very successful at underpricing and rate attrition - and that really has to stop."

Faulkner said both bodily injury claims and civil reforms would have a major impact on the industry throughout 2000.

But the clearest announcement of rate increases came from Ian Robertson, Norwich Union's Birmingham branch manager. Robertson told the conference delegates: "In employers' liability and public liability there have been sizeable Ogden increases. As a result, rates will increase by ten per cent across the board."

However, Robertson also warned that brokers who fail to offer their clients risk management services will experience much bigger rate hikes.

He said he expected sizeable increases in other lines of business as well. In fleet, he said the average jump would be around 30% while in private car, he said rates are already 25% up on last year, largely as a result of NHS clawback, the Woolf Reforms and Ogden.

Robertson's view was also endorsed by the other panel members. Graham Nabb CGU's area director for Birmingham said: "We are in the business of making a profit. We are re-writing our portfolio and pushing through rate increases. Law changes and compensation pay-outs are going to have a pretty dramatic effect on our industry."

The panel also spoke frankly about a number of issues, including claims service standards for brokers, the effects of broker clubs for non-members and what insurers are doing to ensure their staff are adequately trained.