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Markel Reports Strong Underwriting Performance and Announces Filing of Form 10-Q

RICHMOND, Va., May 3 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ -- Markel Corporation (NYSE: MKL) reported net income of $7.47 per diluted share for the quarter ended March 31, 2005 compared to net income of $4.20 per diluted share for the same period of 2004. The combined ratio improved to 90% for the quarter ended March 31, 2005 compared to 96% in 2004. Book value per share decreased to $165.47 per share at March 31, 2005 from $168.22 per share at December 31, 2004 due to a comprehensive loss of $26.1 million for the first quarter of 2005.

Alan I. Kirshner, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, commented, "We are extremely proud that our disciplined underwriting approach continues to produce record underwriting performance. While the decline in market value of our investment portfolio was significant during the first quarter of 2005, we are not short-term investors and we remain confident in the long-term value of our holdings. We believe our commitment to underwriting profitability and our ability to produce exceptional investment results over the long term are the cornerstones for continued growth in book value per share."

The Company also announced today it has filed its Form 10-Q for the quarter ended March 31, 2005 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 first quarter financial results and may include forward-looking information, will be held Wednesday, May 4, 2005 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 may also listen to the call free over the Internet through Markel Corporation's corporate 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.

Markel Corporation celebrates its Diamond Anniversary in 2005; over 75 years we've firmly established the Markel Style and our commitment to success.

SOURCE: Markel Corporation

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

Web site: http://www.markelcorp.com