Zurich Financial Services became the latest insurer to see its share price crash through the floor this week.

The Anglo-Swiss group's share price was slashed by 13% on Monday after it doubled its forecast of expected losses from the World Trade Centre attacks and abandoned its 2001 profit target.

The fall illustrates the danger insurers face if they rush out an optimistic loss figure only to revise it upwards later - a strategy which does not inspire confidence on the stock market.

But the company's share price recovered much of its lost ground as it pointed out premiums were rising dramatically and the loss was less than 2% of its gross annual premiums.

Investors' nervousness about insurers following the events of September 11 have been worsened by the US-led attacks on Afghanistan, which may jeopardise or delay many other recoveries.

Many other insurers' shares have been clawing their way slowly back towards their values of September 10.

UK giants CGNU and Royal & SunAlliance both fell slightly on Monday after air strikes began in Afghanistan, but were holding relatively steady on Tuesday.

The smaller players on the stock market are facing an altogether harder time.

Shares in Lloyd's vehicle Kiln slumped dramatically from more than 75p last month down to about 35p and still have yet to cross the 50p barrier. They may be making slow progress, but at least they are climbing.

Fellow Lloyd's insurers Cox, Hiscox and Amlin have all fallen far below the values they enjoyed before September 11 and appear to show little inclination to regain their former glory.