Former Names are flocking to invest in Lloyd's, bucking a seven-year trend.

This year, 17 individuals who had resigned from their syndicates, have applied to come back to the 300-year-old market. Last year, only five Names wanted to return.

Since corporate capital was introduced to Lloyd's in 1994, the number of individuals, who have unlimited liability, operating in the market has fallen dramatically. In 1994, Lloyd's had 17,400 Names compared to 95 corporate members. Last year it had 2,852 private individuals and 894 had limited liability.

But the decline of individuals withdrawing from Lloyd's has slowed down, as investors rush to take advantage of the hardening market.

Lloyd's spokesman Adrian Beeby said: "The number of individuals in the market fell because of the considerable difficulties many of them faced during the late 1980s and early 1990s. Many had made substantial losses or had been driven to the point of bankruptcy.

"This is now positive news for Lloyd's as it shows renewed interest. There is a notable increase in the number of former members returning to the society, more so than in earlier years.

"We assume this is because of rates rises next year which will be very profitable. It is possible that many former Names will adopt a wait and see policy to see what happens."

Last month, Association of Lloyd's Members (ALM) chairman Michael Deeny vowed to increase his participation.

He said: "Next year will be one of the most profitable in the history of Lloyd's. I will be doubling my underwriting."

The number of Names is stabilising at Lloyd's

1998 1999 2000 2001 2002
Names 6,828 4,655 3,296 2,852 2,618
Corporates 435 668 853 894 933
* 39 subject to election

Names are coming back...

2000 2001 2002
Returning 5 5 17
New 1 1 0