After a period of shrinking UK premium to restore profitability, chief executive Scott Egan sees signs of green shoots in the broker channel

RSA saw new regional broker business grow by 18% in the first half of 2019 compared to the previous year.

New business in the regions was £22m in H1 2019 – up £3.3m on 2018.

It was one of the points RSA UK & International chief executive Scott Egan highlighted as an early sign that RSA was beginning to see growth in the UK business.

RSA has been implementing a plan to cut out around £250m of unprofitable business - largely in the London market and from MGAs. This process is now around 85% of the way through.

Add in the increased pricing discipline in personal lines, and the 2019 H1 UK premium figure was around 10.2% down on the same period last year.

Signs of growth

Egan had previously told Insurance Times that he would not allow RSA to “shrink to greatness”, and he picked out the increased broker business as a sign “we are beginning to see the early shades of growth.”

However, having started to return the business back to profitability after a disappointing 2018 result, Egan said he would be show some caution.

“Where I’m happy with our level of capability and the level of profitability, which is influenced by both us and the market, then I’m happy to grow and there’s no exclusion to that,” he said. “But I will always be careful where, because we had some tougher times last year, we are a bit more cautious than we would otherwise be.”

Egan revealed that average premiums are up 25% versus H1 2018 as a result of RSA working more closely on risks important to them.

And as well as signs of growth he said retention levels were a source of optimism. Retention levels were at just under 90% on broker business.

“We are seeing signs of growth, but I’m as proud in our London market books where retention, although down slightly, has broadly held up,” he said.

“That’s a really important measure where even though we’re taking rating action and underwriting action, our customers are still coming to us and staying with us.

“What we’re not seeing is a systemic flight of customers based on actions that we’ve taken or are taking. That gives us a great platform to build on.”