Heavyweights from Ace, E&O and QBE join WR Berkley venture

Professional indemnity (PI) heavyweights are being signed up to a new insurer that is expected to become a major player in the troubled sector.

Insurance Times reported last month that the WR Berkley-backed proposition could throw a lifeline to brokers struggling to find cover for IFAs and other clients. It is headed by former PI head at Ace, Stuart Wright.

The project is currently known as WRB London, but is set to change its name.

One PI market source said: "It will become a major player, but don't expect it to storm in and undercut the others. The driving force will be profitable underwriting."

New appointments are understood to include PI specialist Michael Earp, previously of E&O Professionals and Paul Hosking previously of QBE, who is set to become chief of finance at the new operation. Peter Glenfield, previously of Ace, is also appointed.

Backing will include a 20% stake held by Lloyd's insurer Kiln, which is currently under negotiation.

The board will be dominated by WR Berkley, but will include representation from Kiln.

It is not known how much PI cover the new company will write, but Berkley's backing is expected to give it the power to write as much business as it wants in the class, while rates remain at their current high levels.

WR Berkley, a US holding company, turned over $2.6bn last year. It operates in specialty insurance, alternative markets, reinsurance, regional property casualty insurance and international.

The company is currently in the process of gaining FSA-regulated status.