While the world spent Christmas and New Year's Eve rushing around with last minute party preparations, the insurance industry experienced a different type of frenzy.

Instead of finding presents to put under the tree or snapping up bargains in the January sales, intermediaries and insurers desperately attempted to buy and place cover.

Everyone knew this year's renewal season would be the first hurdle in a changing market. Agreeing contract terms would inevitably take longer and brokers and underwriters have rolled up their sleeves and battled to get cover in place.

Tales of enthusiastic workers arriving in the office at 4am only to depart at 9pm during the festive period have become widespread. Others postponed their annual skiing trips until March.

Lloyd's spokesman Adrian Beeby described the 1 January renewals as "one of the busiest the market has ever seen since the Gulf War".

Although difficult times and a late renewal season were anticipated, this has not made the past few weeks any easier.

But the market will scrape through, as it did when capacity dramatically dried up in 1993 after Hurricane Andrew and in 1987 following the US liability crunch. And a cautious approach during a challenging time can only be better in the long run.

Now is a good opportunity to get back to basics, recoup World Trade Centre losses and protect the industry from a similar fate. And who knows, this year could once again find a place in the history books - it may well make a profit.