It is difficult to translate the TV pictures that we are still seeing of the World Trade Centre wreckage into something more tangible.

The first ripples hit the reinsurers last week. As Insurance Times revealed, rates are set to rise 40%. And with most reinsurance renewals due on January 1, 2002, insurers are bracing themselves.

Some have been lucky. NIG, the Churchill Group insurer, renews its reinsurance in July. It gets a seven-month breathing space. But it doesn't seem like rates will soften by next summer.

Equities are the problem. Last Friday's stock market free-fall wiped tens of billions of pounds off the balance sheets of insurers and others.

With less capital, insurers cannot invest and, without investment, insurers will have to revert to efficient underwriting to provide all-important shareholder value.

Brokers are worried. Not just the flash City brokers dealing with global conglomerates and reinsurance, but provincial brokers too. They will have bad news for their clients (see page 1).

Meanwhile, Lloyd's underwriters have taken away brokers' underwriting powers and travel insurers have had to shelve expansion plans and seen sales plummet (see page 2 for both stories).

Let's hope the pain will only be deep for the short term and that, by summer, confidence starts to return to consumers, business owners and share traders.