Markel International president Jeremy Cooke said the company is to grow its professional indemnity (PI) book by 20%to write $160m (£103m) this year.

He threw his weight behind the company's professional liability division after the recent resignations of Richard Clapham, the division 's managing director, and Terry Mason, class underwriter of the legal expenses account.

The company recently launched a staff training programme and Cooke said that attracting and developing quality people is one of his "top priorities".

The company will steer clear of insuring most solicitors, one of the professions to be finding it hardest to buy cover, given current market shortages.

Cooke said: "Solicitors' schemes have been underpriced and still are."

Markel has cut its maximum limits from £25m to £15m but Cooke has set no ceiling for writing PI business.

"We are very comfortable with the kind of margins we're achieving and we want to continue to grow this class of business," he said.

It is not yet making an underwriting profit, but Cooke said he has the goal in his sights.

He acknowledged the renewal season was "stressful" for brokers and predicted difficulties for companies needing large limits.

He also launched an outspoken attack on Lloyd's, calling for a single London insurance market.

Cooke's company plans to increase its support of its Lloyd 's Syndicate 3000, but also writes through Terra Nova Insurance Company.

But he criticised the world 's oldest insurance market.

"We must start to come to the position where we have one London market," he said.

"What 's important to Markel is that the business is here in London. Whether it's written at Lloyd's or written on our company paper is immaterial to us.

Markel would put more money into Lloyd's "in the short term" but said it had to become more efficient to retain support.

  • In an article published on 29 August ("Markel hit by PI leader's defection "), Insurance Times stated that Terry Mason, who was described as lead underwriter of Markel's PI division, had resigned. In fact, Terry Mason was not the lead underwriter.

    He was class underwriter of the division's legal expenses account, which forms only a small part of Markel's professional liability division.

    We apologise for our error.

  • Topics