Insurance Times places Aviva, RSA, AXA and Allianz under the microscope on underwriting combined ratios

By Content Director Saxon East

Saxon East

Saxon East

The revolving doors at the top of UK general insurance are swinging hard and fast this summer.

Colm Holmes leaves Aviva to take over at Allianz, replacing Jon Dye. His trusty lieutenant and Aviva stalwart Phil Bayles also departs the insurer to move to Ardonagh. 

To fill the gap, Aviva chief executive Amanda Blanc has hand-picked her own team, with Adam Winslow getting his big break as UK general insurance boss.

So what’s in store for these new bosses? Let’s look at the underwriting results, then join the dots together and draw some conclusions. 

Aviva’s excellence 

Looking at the tables below, Aviva’s excellence is clear.

Screen Shot 2021-06-08 at 14.50.13

Excluding Bupa, which as a health insurer is slightly different, Aviva has led the pack on underwriting in three of the last four years. 

Its performance would have been even better if it were not for a dip in performance in personal lines. 

Arguably, ex-boss Mark Wilson’s digital focus distracted Aviva from its core broker partner relationships. 

But, with personal lines on the mend, new UK chief Winslow has a straightforward task - maintain the best parts of the successful strategy and make incremental improvements. 

Moving to Allianz, it’s clear why Holmes was offered the top job at Allianz.

The German insurer wants top results and believes Holmes can sprinkle some of his magic stardust. 

According to the data provided by our friends at Insurance DataLab, Holmes will need to fix Allianz’s underwriting deterioration in the last two years (NB: these results are from PRA-regulated returns and the UK insurers’ own press releases around their results may have discrepancies).

Holmes, with his excellent track record, can potentially overtake Aviva to become the best performer with Allianz. 

To improve underwriting, Holmes may look to cut back on some of the higher commission deals, instead looking to broker partners who can help the insurer improve its combined ratio. Some volume may be sacrificed.

There could be broker winners and losers. We shall see. 

RSA can do better 

The final interesting one is RSA.

The figures from Insurance DataLab show it has the worst underwriting performance.

According to Insurance Times’s annual surveys, the insurer is also the worst performer on broker service across personal lines, commercial lines and etrading - an unwanted hat-trick of disappointing broker service results. 

Having undergone years of premium reductions and class line exits, broker faith has waned - there is still much more work needed to improve. 

New owner Intact can help by providing fresh investment to help bring RSA back to its former glory. 

RSA has lost the swagger that once led it to believe it could swallow up Aviva’s general insurance arm to become the undisputed heavyweight king of UK general insurance.  

However, the insurer still has a lot of broker warmth towards it, as well as a well recognised name. That provides a platform for UK chief executive Scott Egan to improve performance.

Egan is long in the tooth enough to know that things can turn around quite quickly. 

The right investment, leadership and execution can certainly shake up the pack of UK general insurance.