Half-year results show soaring underwriting profit - with commercial 71% up

Royal & SunAlliance (R&SA) saw UK underwriting profits soar 60% in the first six months of 2005 to £79m.

Commercial lines underwriting profit rocketed 71% to £65m, while personal lines produced an underwriting result of £14m, up 27% on the previous year.

Announcing the company's half-year results, R&SA chief executive Duncan Boyle said he was "obviously delighted".

The UK business's overall combined ratio improved nearly three points to 92.5% from 95.3% in the previous period, while net written premiums rose by 5% to £1.4bn, from £1.3bn a year earlier.

Personal lines business grew by 6% to £420m, with net written premiums in motor showing the largest increase, rising to £215m from £201m.

Boyle said the growth of the personal lines book had been underlined by the success of More Th>n. Online sales accounted for 46% of new motor sales business in the division.

Commercial lines business grew by 5% to £931m, with the combined operating ratio improving by 4.5 points on the previous half year to 90.8%. The company said the increased profit was due to enhanced claims handling and improved business retention.

Commercial property was hardest hit by the soft market, with a drop in net written premiums from £413m in 2004 to £377m.

Boyle said there were plans to accelerate the insurer's operational improvement programme by rolling out its sales and servicing administration technology by the end of the year.

By the end of 2006 R&SA will use a single administration programme to streamline operation processes, he added.

Boyle said streamlining would directly help to speed up the claims process.