A base in mainland Europe will help insurer Lloyd's of London increase its market share on the continent in the medium term, its chairman John Nelson said today. 

Lloyd's of London has announced it is opening a subsidiary in Brussels so as to continue serving European Union customers after Britain leaves the bloc.

"In terms of the EU - partly for industry structural reasons, it has not been a hugely large market for Lloyd's - it may actually improve. We have put down facilities onshore," Nelson told a conference. 

"We think we will be able to operate pretty much seamlessly as far as our customers are concerned," he added

Adrian Montague, chairman of insurer Aviva, said his company was "Brexit ready". 

"We don't have to do major structural surgery," Montague said. 

Nigel Wilson, chief executive of Legal & General, told the same conference that nervousness about Brexit will prompt the industry to look for new business outside Europe. 

"The opportunities for us are just immense," Wilson told the conference. 

Currently insurers comply with EU rules known as Solvency II, which were only introduced last year at the cost of millions of pounds to firms, and UK lawmakers have already begun looking at possible amendments. 

Nelson said it was the wrong moment to attack the "clunky" EU rules as Britain would need to show the EU it complies with similar insurance rules in order to facilitate cross-border trade. 

EU countries were already worried about a "sudden dash to light regulation" in Britain, and it was in everybody's interest that their rules have a similar effect. 

"There is going to be a period where there needs to be mutual reassurance that nobody is going to burn bridges. There is no need or desire for a bonfire of regulations," Montague said.