Markel Syndicate 3000 has scotched rumours that it will stop writing new hull cover.

Markel International president Jeremy Cooke confirmed that its hull account would still be open next year, provided "rates are where we need them and [the class was] still profitable".

Markel's continued support of the hull market comes at a time when underwriters are under increasing pressure to return a profit or lose the support of their capital providers. No underwriter has made a profit since 1996.

Industry sources are expecting some insurers to close their hull accounts as backers shift to more profitable markets, such as energy.

But Cooke admitted that the syndicate had reduced the amount of business it is writing.

He said it had managed to avoid the large losses that the market had suffered recently.

The Joint Hull Committee estimates that these losses amount to $750m (£479m) globally.

The capacity of Syndicate 3000 has been increased from £200m to £260m for the 2002 year of account.

Cooke said that the increase would be used to "support all areas" of the business. Particular emphasis would be placed on the professional indemnity and property accounts.