Insurers are split over how to approach the dilemma facing employers' liability (EL)during this year's renewal season.

Zurich has guaranteed to give renewal terms to its current employers' liability (EL)policyholders. But AXA has refused to offer any guarantees.

Zurich corporate and government managing director Geoff Riddell said the offer applied to all stand- alone EL policies, not package policies, and depended on the policyholders having paid their premium and complied with health and safety standards.

Zurich has 20,000 EL customers, making it the biggest provider in the UK.

"We think there are long term issues with EL, such as the length of the tail and how to manage and price for it, but we're a long-term player who understands the business and prices the high risks correctly," Riddell said.

But AXA chief executive Peter Hubbard warned that EL guarantees could endanger employees if health and safety standards were not maintained.

"EL is there to protect the employees and if we find incidents where basics of health and safety have not been maintained.

"I don 't think we're doing the right thing if we're guaranteeing them cover for EL," he said.

"That 's my moral stance on this."