Corporate capital's dominance at Lloyd's was challenged by the launch of the biggest new syndicate in the market's 300-year history.

Managing Agency Partners' £150m capacity syndicate 2971, launched at the beginning of September, will begin trading in January. It was one of the few new ventures at Lloyd's that had significant backing from traditional Names.

The syndicate was the brainchild of David Shipley and Richard Trubshaw, who both previously worked at Amlin-owned Harvey Bowring non-marine syndicate 362. Shipley is the active underwriter of the new syndicate and Trubshaw his deputy.

The syndicate will underwrite all types of marine and non-marine business, except aviation, and is aiming for a premium income of £141m in its first year.

In mid-September, a controversial report showing that the insurance cycle was to become wildly unpredictable was released.

Insurance analysts First Consulting said the traditional underwriting cycle of regular peaks and troughs would be a thing of the past.

At the time, the UK insurance market was at its softest for more than five years – rates were 20% below the 1994 peak – and many insurers had seen their underwriting results plunge.

But the report stressed that, while premium rates appeared to be on an upswing again, chronic overcapacity meant the regular cycle of six to ten years was becoming increasingly erratic.

In other news, St Paul claimed to have won more than £50m of gross written premiums in the scramble for the new solicitors' professional indemnity market.

The insurer estimated that it had between 20% and 30% of the premium pot and was the market leader for the first £1m of PI cover in England and Wales.

There was scandal later in September when Groupama refused to disclose the results of an investigation into the Staffordshire intermediary that had admitted ripping of working man's clubs when placing premiums.

Intermediary Lloyd Manley had charged grossly inflated administration fees to several clubs, forcing Groupama to investigate and also prompting an investigation by the Association of British Insurers.

However, Groupama managing director Stephen Hartigan said the findings of the investigation were not in the public interest. He said Groupama had not cancelled its agency agreement with Lloyd Manley.

Lloyd Manley director John Bateman said the overcharging had been carried out by a former member of staff and all the clubs involved had been contacted and the money refunded.

Marks & Spencer Financial Services launched its streamlined household contents policy. It claimed its Home & Contents product was the only one on the market not to require customers to specify a cover limit for their household contents. Customers only have to advise it of items worth more than £4,000.

September ended with the CII conference, at which Insurance Times published the official daily newspaper.

Among the headline speakers was Arthur Anderson partner Mark Ward, who said the whirlwind of insurer consolidation had not created shareholder value or improved customer service.

Ward said insurers' desperation to gain access to capital via mergers had caused the market to become overcapitalised, reducing shareholder returns.

In another address, a shock announcement came from Independent Insurance's marketing and ecommerce boss Andy Hawkes, who said the company was considering scrapping individual risk surveys ahead of offering cover.

But he made it clear Independent would obtain the information from new systems such as satellite pictures and statistical and geographical data.

Michael Bright was confirmed as the new president of the CII, replacing Lloyd's underwriter Reg Brown, during the institute's annual general meeting.

In another conference speech, consultant and CII training and development forum deputy chairman Robin Wood said the insurance industry would spend £16m a year training up to one million people to meet the new GISC regulations.

Wood said the GISC would be “vicious” with those who flouted its training rules and said many firms would face huge costs for retraining if they got it wrong the first time.