Personal lines managing director is ‘fairly ambitious’ for 2024 and will be vigilant for ‘exciting opportunities’ around new products

When insurer giant Aviva published its 2023 full-year financial results on 7 March 2024, it recorded an uptick in general insurance premiums from £5.74bn in 2022 to £6.64bn last year.

A key contributor to this growth was the insurer’s performance in its personal lines book – premiums across these lines of business increased by 24% year-on-year, it reported.

For Owen Morris, managing director of personal lines for Aviva’s UKGI arm, this improvement has been centred around “continuous improvement” in its core “vanilla ice cream” operations, alongside introducing new flavours of propositions to plug potential product gaps and tempt a new, younger demographic of customers.

The new products that have boosted premium growth include online car insurance product Aviva Zero, which launched in February 2022 and enables policyholders to offset the carbon emissions created from the miles they drive.

Speaking exclusively to Insurance Times, Morris says: “Aviva Zero was set up for a couple of reasons. One was to provide a sustainable option for customers. But equally, it was there as a real technology play as well – the underlying architecture is first class, a lot of time and effort went into building that.

“We now have over half a million policies for Aviva Zero in a very short period of time. [Aviva Zero] will go on to be a really big, important thing for us in time. It’s already big, but [it continues] to grow nicely.”

Owen Morris, Aviva

Owen Morris

New flavours of ice cream

Other important drivers of Aviva’s personal line premium growth in 2023 include car cover “twins” Quote Me Happy Essentials and Quote Me Happy Connect.

Quote Me Happy Essentials was introduced in August 2011 to provide an online, self-service option for consumers. Available on price comparison websites from October 2022, it was designed to be more affordable by excluding certain aspects of cover – for example personal belongings or European insurance.

Quote Me Happy Connect, meanwhile, is Aviva’s app-based telematics offering that launched in December 2022. Aimed at drivers aged between 17 and 29, the policy’s app works in conjunction with a windscreen mounted device.

“Both of those are driving really nice growth,” Morris notes.

Aside from Aviva’s motor insurance products, Morris adds that the insurer’s private client arm is also boosting overall personal lines growth thanks to “the acquisitions that we’ve made”.

This includes the purchase of Axa XL’s private client book in March 2021 and buying MGA Azur Underwriting’s high net worth business in August 2022.

“We should be really good at private clients,” he says.

“We’re here in the UK, it’s our home market. We’ve got great connections with loads of brokers both in that market [and also] more generally. They were telling us [that] they wanted us to be really good at that. And so we’ve invested in a couple of different businesses and that’s another flavour of ice cream.”

For Morris, this range of propositions across motor and high net worth indicate Aviva’s “continuous improvement in the core business”.

He explains: “This is not particularly flashy, but it’s just about doing what your customers want and trying to appeal to more customers.

“There’s nothing wrong with sticking to what your customers want, not what you think they might want. That’s what we’ve tried to do in terms of recognising that we didn’t have a product for people who wanted something that was slightly more affordable.

“We didn’t have a telematics app that people were just wanting to download. We didn’t have private client business that was capable of doing the high end of high net worth and ultra – we weren’t set up to do those things.

“[Building these products has] made a real difference.”

Alongside these products, Morris attributes half of last year’s personal lines premium growth to average premiums increasing and “rates going up”.


Morris’ approach to Aviva’s personal lines product suite is founded on his ethos of consistency, which is one cornerstone of his leadership style. In particular, the former actuary feels it is important to remain consistent around risk appetite for brokers.

The other driver of his leadership in personal lines is to ensure Aviva is “brilliant at those basics” of insurance.

He says: “[We have been focusing on] the basics of insurance.

“People expect you to be good at pricing and underwriting, be good at claims and actually having a decent customer experience and making sure those things work. I have spent a lot of time on getting that right. That’s what we do and that’s what we have to be good at.

“[We have also tried to] just be consistent. There’s not a rocket science to it. It’s just [being] consistent.”

This mentality is underpinning Morris’ plans for 2024.

Despite being “fairly ambitious”, Morris – who has headed up Aviva’s personal lines business for the past three years – is keen to “keep delivering for our brokers and our customers”.

He explains: “The thing I love about insurance is it’s a game of being really solid. It’s very easy when things are going reasonably well to get lots of ideas of all the things you might want to do.

“What we need to do is still keep delivering for our brokers and our customers and the products they want in the here and now and keep being brilliant at those basics.”

Therefore, Morris plans to “add one or two more flavours of ice cream” to Aviva’s personal lines portfolio this year “where we think those are the right thing to do”, but his main goal for 2024 is “to keep that focus and keep the energy going on the things that actually matter to people”.

He continues: “There are lots of exciting opportunities in personal lines.

“We are the largest home insurer. We are growing really nicely in motor and travel insurance is really quite big for us as well – three million travel customers now.

“We’ve got some really big positions in some of those markets, which we want to keep growing, but [we will] just keep an eye open in terms of other opportunities for us.

“We’re just running a really happy team here at the moment. It feels like we’ve got some energy, it feels like we’re making really good progress.

“Quietly and understatedly, we want to just keep making progress and keep being consistent for our customers and brokers and keep growing.”