US-backed insurer to target select group of UK brokers

Brokers struggling to place professional indemnity risks could be thrown a lifeline with the entry of a new player into the PI market.

A new UK insurer backed by US giant WR Berkley Corporation will write mainly PI business.

The new company, which has yet to decide on a name, is headed by former director of professional liabilities at ACE Global Markets, Stuart Wright.

He said: "We have very strong capital, from an insurance company that fully understands casualty business. Everything I will be doing here, they do in one form or another in the US."

He would employ "market leaders" in their fields for his underwriting and was looking for both teams and individuals.

Head of PI underwriting will be Peter Glanfield, his former number two at ACE.

Wright said: "The larger proportion of our business would be PI and it will be predominantly UK-based."

But the company's decision to enter the fraught PI market is likely only to help a select group of brokers as Wright said the company would carefully pick who it will work with.

The company is in the process of gaining FSA-regulated status, which could take until mid-May.

It aims to open its doors on 1 July but Wright said: "A lot depends on our application to the FSA. We hope that will be with them shortly but I can't say how long it will take them to process."