The week's winners

  • Atrium Underwriting up 13.3%
  • Goshawk up 9%
  • Hardy Underwriting up 7.1%

    The week's losers

  • Kiln down 9%
  • Chaucer down 9%
  • Domestic and General down 8%

    Allianz hit the headlines last week after hiking up its loss estimate from the World Trade Centre by another 50% - the second rise - and refusing to rule out further increases.

    And despite losing £28m in the third quarter alone, both analysts and the markets seemed relatively upbeat about the German group.

    On the London Stock Exchange, its shares started the week by nudging up after having dropped in expectation of poor results last week.

    If the market considered that it had taken an unduly pessimistic view of the company - number six in the general insurers' league - the analysts appeared to agree.

    Even the raising of the company's estimated losses from 11 September to 1.5bn after reinsurance and tax did not unduly worry

    Roman Cizdyn at Merrill Lynch.

    "It's nothing to be scared of in itself - with an incident like that you have to go through quite a bit of paperwork before you know where you are," he said.

    The company pleaded the need to allow for `late' claims for business interruption but it is still basing its figures on the assumption that one insured event took place, rather than two, when the twin towers collapsed.

    An increasingly bitter battle looks likely to be fought on just this point, with reinsurer Swiss Re and WTC owner Larry Silverstein slugging away at each other as a US court prepares to make a ruling on the subject.

    A decision that there were two events could throw a spanner into the works for all insurers by allowing double the number of claims.

    Morgan Stanley's Rob Procter forecast higher earnings next year and picked out general insurance as the star of the show.

    Cizdyn was upbeat about the group's UK operating ratios in property and casualty business, which improved by 10% from December last year to September this year.

    "They had historic rate increases coming through and that's going to improve," he said.

    "The fact that so much capital has been knocked out of the industry by the World Trade Centre means whereas motor would otherwise be getting pretty competitive, prices aren't going down."

    Elsewhere on the markets, the FTSE All Share Insurance Index continued on a gradual rise with some fluctuations among the smaller players on the market.

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