Towergate PI unit
Towergate Underwriting Group has launched a professional indemnity (PI) division. The unit aims to provide intermediaries with specialist facilities in the Lloyd's and London markets.

AXA downgraded
Standard & Poor's Ratings Services has lowered its insurer financial strength and counterparty credit ratings on AXA Insurance UK, AXA General Insurance, and AXA Direct Insurance to A+ from AA. The ratings agency said the move reflects its view that the companies' status within the AXA group has shifted from being "core" to "strategically important".

New IAF chairman
Industry standards body Polaris has appointed Coversure Insurance's Mark Coverdale as chairman of its new Intermediary Advisory Forum (IAF).

EU under fire
European insurers have raised objections to a new EU directive on environmental liability that would make insurance compulsory. The Comité Européen des Assurances warned, "the principle of compulsory insurance is not conceivable for environmental liability, where risks differ substantially".

St Paul on review
Moody's is reviewing The St Paul Companies' ratings for a possible downgrade.

Premiums to rise Insurance premiums are expected to increase for commercial insurance following a rise in reinsurance rates, according to a survey by Heath Lambert.

S&P Lloyd's results

Standard & Poor's (S&P) has announced the results of its January review of its Lloyd's Syndicate Assessments (LSAs).

Of the 93 syndicates trading at Lloyd's for the 2002 year of account, 71 remain trading for 2003, 13 have ceased trading, 10 have merged with other Lloyd's syndicates, and one new syndicate has been launched.