The week's winners
Kiln up 8.9%
Jardine Lloyd Thompson up 2.2%

The week's losers
Hardy Underwriting down 10.3%
Culver down 9.4%

We are staring the bear in the face and it's not …

The week's winners
Kiln up 8.9%
Jardine Lloyd Thompson up 2.2%

The week's losers
Hardy Underwriting down 10.3%
Culver down 9.4%

We are staring the bear in the face and it's not a pretty sight.

In the paranoia over earnings and accounting scandals, the main factor driving the market is investors' need to value accurately quoted companies.

In the ensuing panic, just about all insurance stocks have been dragged down.

Over the last three or four weeks, Royal & SunAlliance has come down from about 270p to 240p, Allianz slid from about £14.5 to £12.80 and Aviva from around 580p to 470p. Even the previous sector darling, broker Jardine Lloyd Thompson, has come down from about 663p to 635p despite a small rise last week.

Lloyd's operator Kiln still seems able to inspire investor confidence - institutional investors are keen to get in following last month's rights issue.

As a result, Kiln is bucking the trend and moving upwards.

Are those investors the canny ones?

While the bear isn't about to waltz back into the woods, insurance rates aren't about to collapse, either.

It's going to take our industry a long time to refill its coffers after last year's losses. And appalling investment returns - while very painful - will only increase pressure on underwriters and therefore rates.

And while rates remain buoyant, sharp investors should be able to spot sharp insurers and make a packet.

Claims Direct has already been reduced close to junk status. Its shareprice spent the early part of this week bobbing along at about 3p. But while others, such as Kiln or Munich Re, show they can still inspire confidence, there is hope for the sector as a whole.