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Markel Reports First Quarter Results

RICHMOND, Va., May 2 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ -- Markel Corporation (NYSE: MKL) reported net income of $7.67 per diluted share for the quarter ended March 31, 2006 compared to net income of $7.47 per diluted share for the same period of 2005. Gross premium volume for the first quarter of 2006 increased 12% compared to the same period of 2005. The combined ratio for the quarter ended March 31, 2006 was 94%, including 9 points of development on 2005 hurricane losses, compared to 90% for the same period of 2005. Book value per share increased to $176.56 per share at March 31, 2006 from $174.04 per share at December 31, 2005 due to comprehensive income of $45.1 million partially offset by the repurchase of 139,800 shares of the Company's common stock in 2006.

Alan I. Kirshner, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, commented, "We are pleased to report strong results for the first quarter of 2006 despite loss development on the 2005 hurricanes. Premium volume exceeded our expectations in the first quarter due to new products growth and increasing prices on catastrophe-exposed business. We are well positioned to produce solid underwriting profits in 2006."

The Company also announced today it has filed its Form 10-Q for the quarter ended March 31, 2006 with the Securities and Exchange Commission. A copy of the Form 10-Q is available on the Company's website at http://www.markelcorp.com or at the SEC website at http://www.sec.gov. Readers are urged to review the Form 10-Q for a more complete discussion of the Company's financial performance. The quarterly conference call, which will also involve discussion of the Company's financial results and may include forward-looking information, will be held Wednesday, May 3, 2006, beginning at 10:30 a.m. (Eastern Daylight Savings Time). Any person interested in listening to the call should contact Markel's Investor Relations Department at 804-747-0136. Investors, analysts and the general public also may listen to the call free over the Internet through the Company's web site, http://www.markelcorp.com.

Markel Corporation markets and underwrites specialty insurance products and programs to a variety of niche markets. In each of these markets, the Company seeks to provide quality products and excellent customer service so that it can be a market leader. The financial goals of the Company are to earn consistent underwriting profits and superior investment returns to build shareholder value.

SOURCE: Markel Corporation

CONTACT: Bruce Kay of Markel Corporation, +1-804-747-0136