The chairman of Lloyd's of London, the world-famous insurance marketplace, says London underwriters need to work harder to get business from U.S. corporations.

"For years, we've depended on the public perception that we're only interested in insuring earthquakes, Betty Grable's legs or the Loch Ness monster," Murray Lawrence told reporters at the Independent Insurance Agents of America convention.Lawrence said that the Lloyd's of London Council, which represents underwriters operating at the huge exchange, has begun a campaign to prove they are interested in "run-of-the-mill" business as well as the unusual policies for which they are known.

"We want to raise the threshold and knowledge of Lloyd's," Lawrence said.

Lloyd's profit cycle peaked in 1986 and 1987 with earnings of about $1 billion each year, Lawrence said.

"Since then, the picture has deteriorated," he said. "It seems likely that 1989 will mark the first overall loss in more than 20 years, and 1990 has not made a promising start."

He blamed natural disasters including Hurricane Hugo and European windstorms.

Lawrence said he believes industry profits will improve soon as underwriters and reinsurers raise premiums.