Insurance DataLab analyses the latest regulatory returns of the five largest insurers in UKGI, exclusively for Insurance Times
Last year was tough for the UK general insurance market, with claims inflation, difficult economic conditions and an evolving regulatory landscape all adding pressure to insurer’s bottom lines.
Indeed, of the five largest insurers by gross written premium (GWP), all but one reported a loss-making combined operating ratio (COR) for 2022.
This is according to the latest analysis of insurer Solvency and Financial Condition Reports (SFCRs) by market intelligence firm Insurance DataLab, published exclusively by Insurance Times.
This analysis found that Aviva was the sole insurer from the top five to report an underwriting profit for 2022 with a COR of 95.4% across its two UK underwriting divisions – Aviva Insurance and Gresham Insurance.
The four remaining insurers all reported CORs north of 100% for 2022, despite RSA being the only insurer of these five to report an underwriting loss the previous year.
RSA’s 2022 COR of 102.3% was, however, better than the 108.2% reported for 2021 and this improvement means that RSA was also the only insurer alongside Aviva to report an improved COR for 2022.
Indeed, Axa (101.1%), Allianz (104.4%) and Direct Line Group (DLG) (112.0%) all reported worsening CORs in their latest regulatory returns.
Aviva find boost
Back at the profitable end of the market, however, and Aviva’s 95.4% COR was its best performance since 2018 – when it reported a ratio of 93.8%.
This comes after it reported a 0.5 percentage point improvement compared to 2021, fuelled by an improving expense ratio as the insurer cut operating expense by 1.9% to £937.1m.
This had the effect of knocking 3.2 percentage points off the insurer’s expense ratio as it fell to 34.6%, down from 37.8% a year earlier.
This was, however, offset by a 2.8 percentage point increase in its loss ratio after the insurer’s net claims incurred rose by more than £180m to £1.65bn for 2022 – meaning that Aviva reported its worse loss ratio since 2019 when net claims incurred totalled more than £1.87bn.
At a group level, the insurer reported GWP of £5.42bn for 2022, up 8% on the previous year as it became the only insurer in this analysis to grow its premium base while also improving its underwriting performance.
Aviva Insurance was the largest UK-based underwriting arm of the group with GWP of £5.3bn – equal to 98% of total premiums for Aviva in the UK.
Property continues to be the insurer’s largest line of business with premiums totalling £2.3bn, accounting for just under 42% of total premiums after Aviva’s property book grew by more than 11%.
Despite this, Aviva’s property book was also its only line of business to report an underwriting loss with a COR of 101.8%, fuelled by a worsening loss ratio that climbed to 56.0% for 2022, up from 47.3% in 2021.
Aviva did, however, report a profitable underwriting result for its second largest book of business – motor insurance – with premiums totalling £1.69bn for 2022.
The insurer reported a COR of just over 90% for its motor book in 2022, a 1.4 percentage point improvement on the previous year after it improved both its loss ratio and expense ratio, despite rising claims inflation.
Meanwhile, Aviva’s strongest underwriting performance came for its income protection business, with a COR of 68.6% for 2022, although it is worth noting that this comes from a premium base of just £43.5m for 2022, making it one of the insurer’s smallest lines of business.
Axa underwriting loss
The second largest insurance group in UKGI is Axa, with the firm’s GWP totalling £4.5bn for 2022, up from £4.3bn a year earlier.
The group is comprised of Axa Insurance UK, Axa PPP Healthcare and Axa XL UK. The largest part of the group is Axa Insurance UK, with premiums totalling £2.28bn – this is equal to more than half of the insurer’s total premium base in the UK.
At a group level, the insurer reported a 101.1% COR for 2022, making it the insurer’s first loss-making year at an underwriting level since 2017 – when it reported a ratio of 100.9%.
Indeed, Axa’s latest COR represents a 3.6 percentage point worsening on the previous year, fuelled by a deterioration in the underwriting performance of Axa Insurance UK, which saw its COR rise by nine percentage points to 109.1%.
Indeed, Axa Insurance UK reported a worsening COR across all of its major lines of business, with motor – the insurer’s largest book of business – experiencing an 8.9 percentage point increase in its COR to 109.6% after its loss ratio jumped 8.4 percentage points.
However, it was Axa XL UK that reported the group’s worst underwriting result for 2022 with a COR of 111.3%, a 5.4 percentage point increase on the previous year.
This comes despite Axa XL UK’s largest book of business – general liability with £307.4m of GWP – reporting a profitable COR of 94.1% for 2022, down from 104.8% the previous year.
Axa XL UK’s property book, meanwhile, reported a COR of 137.2% from a premium base of just over £235m after the insurer’s loss ratio jumped by almost 40 percentage points to 72.5% following a 76.7% increase in net claims incurred.
Axa PPP Healthcare, meanwhile, was the only underwriting division of Axa to report a profitable COR for 2022 – a feat it has achieved in each of the five years that make up this analysis – after reporting a ratio of 92.5% (2021: 93.0%), with the insurer reporting an exceptionally low expense ratio of just 23.9% for 2022.
Allianz returns to loss
The Allianz Group is the third largest insurer group in the UK with GWP totalling £3.94bn for 2022, up 3.6% on the previous year.
More than half of these premiums came from Allianz Insurance, which reported premiums of almost £2bn, with LV= bringing premiums of £1.43bn and Highway and Fairmead reporting premiums of £411.1m and £100.1m respectively.
At a group level, Allianz fell back into loss-making territory after it reported a COR of 104.4% for 2022 – up from 98.3% a year earlier.
Allianz Insurance was the only insurer of the four that make up the Allianz Group in the UK to report an underwriting profit in 2022, with a COR of 95.4%, making it the fourth year in the last five for which the insurer has reported a sub-100% COR.
And Allianz Insurance’s biggest line of business was also its most profitable, with the insurer’s £657.4m miscellaneous financial loss book of business reporting a COR of 79.1% for 2022.
This was a marked improvement on an already profitable 83.8% COR for this line of business in 2021, after the insurer reported an improvement in its loss and expense ratios of 3.7 and 1.0 percentage points respectively.
LV=, meanwhile, did not fare so well, with the insurer’s COR jumping by 17.9 percentage points over the course of the year to rise to 114.0% for 2022.
This worsening was driven by rising claims costs at the insurer after net claims incurred climbed by a third to £583.6m – adding 14.6 percentage points to the insurer’s loss ratio in the process as it increased to 78.6%, up from 64.0% in 2021.
This was fuelled by a worsening in the performance of the insurer’s motor book, which accounted for £1.06bn of GWP in 2022.
The insurer saw net claims incurred rise by more than 26% as its loss ratio jumped by 13 percentage points to 79.2% and its expense ratio rose by 2.5 percentage points following a 13.5% increase in operating expenses.
DLG premiums fall
The fourth largest insurer in this analysis is DLG, after it reported GWP of £3.10bn for 2022.
This is despite the insurer reporting falling premiums in each year of this analysis, decreasing from a peak of £3.39bn in 2017.
This shrinking premium bases has not, however, helped the insurer’s underwriting performance, after its COR rose by 15.6 percentage points to 112.0% – the worst underwriting performance of the five insurers in this analysis and also the biggest increase in COR.
This poor performance was enough to cost former chief executive Penny James her job as she left the insurer towards the end of January 2023 after facing what she described as “significant headwinds at the end of 2022”.
And these headwinds were felt across most lines of business at DLG, with all lines but the insurer’s £107.1m miscellaneous financial loss book of business reporting a worsening COR over the course of 2022.
But they were most keenly felt across the insurer’s two biggest lines of business – motor and property insurance, with GWP of £1.64bn and £868.3m respectively.
The insurer’s motor book experienced a 20.9 percentage point increase in its COR after net claims incurred rose by 29.7% to add 21.1 percentage points to its loss ratio, which stood at a little under 87% for 2022.
DLG’s property book, meanwhile, saw net claims incurred rise by almost 40% over the course of the year to £542.2m, which added 18.7 percentage points to the loss ratio.
And an 8% drop in operating expenses was not enough to offset this increase, as the insurer’s property COR climbed by 14.7 percentage points to 108.7%.
RSA’s slight improvement
The final insurer in this analysis is RSA, with GWP totalling £2.67bn for 2022, up from £2.53bn a year earlier.
The RSA Group in the UK is comprised of RSA Insurance and The Marine Insurance Company, with RSA Insurance contributing more than 98% of overall GWP.
At a group level, RSA reported a loss-making COR of 102.3% for 2022, although this was an improvement on the previous year’s 108.2%.
The insurer’s 2022 underwriting performance also marks its best COR across all five years of this analysis, fuelled by improvements across all major lines of business with the exception of the insurer’s motor book.
RSA reported a motor COR of 116.0% for 2022, up from 108.7% a year earlier after the insurer reported falling net earned premiums.
Property insurance remains RSA’s largest book of business with GWP totalling £1.08bn for 2022, although this was down on the £1.11bn of premiums written the previous year.
The insurer did, however, report an improving underwriting result for its property book in 2022, although a COR of 106.0% (2021: 111.7%) still kept it firmly in loss-making territory.
This was despite an 8% decrease in operating expenses that knocked 5.7 percentage points off its expense ratio.
Insurance DataLab carried out an analysis of insurer Solvency and Financial Condition Reports (SFCRs) for the UK-based legal entities that make up each insurance group. Aggregate underwriting performances have been calculated from the solo SFCRs for each insurer, with ratios calculated from the aggregate premium, claims and expense figures for each insurer.