The insurer’s US insurance arm grew its customer base by 50% over 2014
Admiral founder and chief executive Henry Engelhardt said he expects “a lot of further growth” in the insurer’s US operations off the back of “pretty big expansion plans”.
Elephant Auto, Admiral’s US motor insurance arm, currently only operates in four of the 50 US states, but Engelhardt said this meant there was still much to play for.
“[Elephant] grew quite rapidly last year, but we anticipate a lot of further growth,” he said. “It is just such an enormous market. We are in only four states: Texas, Maryland, Illinois and Virginia, and those states have about 7 or 8 million more vehicles than the UK market. There is certainly a lot to go for, and we anticipate a lot of growth over the next few years.”
Elephant increased its customer base by 50% in the US across 2014, meaning it had 109,000 customers by the end of 2014.
And this growth will be backed by further investment in Compare.com, Admrial’s European-style US price comparison website.
Engelhardt said Admiral was looking to capitalise on the opportunities present across the Atlantic with a new approach to price comparison in the US market.
“We have pretty big expansion plans,” he said. “Compare.com is quite unique in the US market. This is the first European-style price comparison site in the US for car insurance. By European style I mean you get the quotes on the page and you can go ahead and buy straight off the page.
“Typically in the US, companies will collect information and then outbound call you for the rest of your life. This is quite different for the US market – we are really taking first mover advantage on this. But it’s a big place and to reach out to people in a big place you need some money and that’s part of our expansion.”
The investment Admiral made in Compare.com in 2014 meant that the insurer missed out on another record profit in 2014, but Engelhardt was confident the strategy would be beneficial to the group over the longer-term.
“We are used to record profits,” he said. “We have done it for about 15 years on the trot, certainly all 10 years we have been public. But we had two things in particular that kept us from that record [profit]; one was the investment in Compare.com. This is an investment in the future.
“It was a sad thing to see the record profit go, but at the same time it is a great thing to see us investing in the long-term future of our company.”