Independent Insurance has been a stock market darling for most of the past three years. That changed almost overnight after actuaries demanded an increase to the claims reserve, affecting both profits and market confidence.

It does make you wonder how, and indeed whether, analysts earn their money. How can a company's shares be worth £400 one day and £135 only a few weeks later. It is bemusing for shareholders, and problematic for the company.

As the share price moves down towards the underlying asset value of the company, a takeover becomes cheaper and easier. In that respect,

Independent is now in the same position as Marks & Spencer, another former stock market darling. Time will tell whether these two big names will keep their independence.

Home insurance rises mean social exclusion
The news that home insurance premiums have had to rise for the first time in four years because of last winter's floods will probably be welcomed by insurers.

The AA's quarterly premium index survey reports premium increases of 1.62% for buildings cover to an average figure of £134 and 1.44% for contents insurance giving an average cost of £107.

How these modest rises will be seen by householders hit by last year's floods is another matter. Many are struggling to return their previously water-logged homes to normality. But, behind these price rises lurks another issue – social exclusion.

According to Screentrade's survey, insurers are showing a reluctance to offer quotes to householders in flood-hit areas.

Insurers deny they are making it difficult for such householders to obtain cover. However, if flood prone homes face higher premiums the effect is the same – cover may be priced beyond their reach.