Aviva’s managing director for UK general insurance distribution and SME reflects on financial performance and what it is targeting in the new year

Aviva saw itself place second in the latest Insurance Times Top 50 Insurers report, with its underwriting performance standing out against the other four firms that made up the top five.

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The insurer giant saw an improvement in its combined operating ratio (COR) in the latest report, falling from from 95.5% in 2022 to 95.4% in 2023 – an achievement that was not matched by the other firms in the top five, which all saw COR rises.

For Dave Martin, Aviva’s managing director for UK general insurance distribution and SME, the company’s financial performance was something to be proud of, with the aim to be seen as the UK’s number one.

“All at Aviva are delighted to have performed so strongly in [the Top 50 Insurers report],” he says.

“We are proud of what we have achieved and we are proud to be able to help more customers year-on-year. We have been able to deliver more risk transfer for our customers and have done so with a focus on discipline.

“We have focused on growth in terms of the products we offer to our clients and making it easier for our clients when they look to engage with us digitally. Last year saw double digit growth in commercial lines.”

For Aviva, the 12 months prior to 31 December 2022 – the period covered by this year’s report – saw an 8% increase in gross written premium, from £5bn in the previous year to £5.4bn in this year’s report.

“Our core focus has been on serving our clients in a responsible manner,” adds Martin. 

”Discipline is strong and is embedded in our underwriting and the experience we have. We want to use the power of our balance sheet to service our clients.”

Into 2023

Martin also explains that the success of 2022 has been continued into 2023.

“In 2023 we have worked hard on the development of our digital offering and have seen a double digit increase in commercial lines business, including SMEs.

“Once again, this has been achieved in a professional and sustainable manner. Sustainability is important. We are keen to develop long term relationships, which have to be built with sustainability in mind.”

Martin says that part of that sustainable growth has been focused on the business and the people within it.

“Aviva has continued to invest in talent with an increase in the size of our apprenticeship scheme and an increase in our underwriting capacity and capability in mid-market trading with specific appointments,” he continues.

“We want to be responsive, to create new products as our clients’ needs continue to change.”

The company has invested in its telephone-centre capabilities and its digital systems, with 80,000 claims transacted via the insurer’s self-services portal.

Martin also says that artificial intelligence (AI) will deliver more benefits, with 47% of its mid-market renewals undertaken via AI systems.

Broker relationships

In terms of Aviva’s relationship with brokers, Martin says the insurer is focused on strengthening its ties in this sector and that will be down to delivering service levels that brokers expect.

“When it comes to the relationship with our brokers, we are centred on a trajectory of solid and sustainable growth, but driven by innovation in order to deliver flawless execution. The work we have carried out in terms of claims will stand us in good stead and we go into 2024 in good shape.”

Looking at the current market, Martin acknowledges that it has not been easy for anyone in the industry.

“2023 has been a tough year, but our quality and professionalism has shone through,” he says.

“We expect the market to be challenging in the early part of 2024.

“Claims inflation is still coming through the books and will continue to do so for some time. Our focus is to ensure our products and pricing are sustainable and fair. We need to continue to work on how we can deliver customer services and products which exceed expectations.”

Looking to the next 12 months, Martin says the insurer wants to continue to develop the ability to seamlessly interact with its customers and brokers.

“I would like to see us continue to be a clear market leader. To be number one for our customers and number one for our brokers, delivering the desired outcomes,” he explains.

“We will continue to digitise and work to enhance our customer journey, ensuring that customers know we will be there at their time of need.

“We want to offer a true omnichannel approach. People should be able to interact and work with us in the way they want to.”