Formed in 1987 under the leadership of Michael Bright, Independent Insurance surged ahead with a series of acquisitions in the UK and Europe, also winning a string of best insurer awards from 1993 onwards.
But problems began as no-win, no-fee personal injury legal services became increasingly popular. By 2000, commercial liability accounted for nearly 45% of Independent’s book.
The company issued a profits warning in February 2001, after which it attempted to raise £180m through new share issues.
Nevertheless, Independent’s share price fell from 401p in January to 113p at the start of April. This led to Bright’s resignation as chief executive, instead becoming deputy chairman.
On 8 June, the Financial Times revealed that Independent’s losses from claims were unquantifiable, as some claims had not been entered on to its accounting system. Independent’s share price went into freefall until trading was suspended on 11 June.
Bright then resigned from the company on 14 June, without compensation.
On the same day, the company announced that it had stopped writing new policies or renewing old ones.
Independent began looking for a buyer, but on 18 June, it had gone into liquidation.
The Serious Fraud Office and the FSA then began examining Independent’s records for sufficient evidence to launch investigations into the events.