City insurance market bigger than expected

LONDON insurers are writing far more business than previously believed, cementing London’s status as a top global insurance hub, new research yesterday showed.

City insurers wrote a total of £39bn of gross premium in 2010, a third more than the £30bn estimate for the industry previously used, the International Underwriting Association said after surveying the entire market for the first time.

Insurers outside of the Lloyd’s market wrote a gross £16.4bn of premium last year, or £12.6bn after broker commissions, the IUA found by surveying 57 insurers. Lloyd’s insurers brought in £22.6bn in gross premium or £17.7bn net of commission last year.

IUA chief executive Dave Matcham said the survey showed London had kept its competitive edge. “The findings clearly show that London is the place to go for specialty business,” he said. “We are quite excited about this; it is rewriting textbooks.”

The survey included only business directly written in London and did not capture the billions of pounds of business written globally but controlled from London. Matcham said one company wrote just a third of its UK-controlled business in London, and that the IUA will survey this next year.