Insurer has 'lost traction', admits chief executive Maso

AXA Insurance is re-negotiating its relationships with managing general agencies (MGAs) and corporate partners to boost profitability.

“We lost traction in the past few months,” said Philippe Maso, the insurer’s chief executive.

“Over the past two years, the group has focused on the development of new relationships in the MGA world, which were not satisfactory from a returns viewpoint.

“On top of that, there were a couple of corporate partnerships that need to be reviewed to get better terms for the carrier.”

Maso refused to say which corporate partners it would axe or review, but said he expected these negotiations to have an impact on the business from this year.

AXA has reported gross written premium (GWP) of £2.14bn for 2008, down on the previous year’s £2.19bn.

However, earnings improved in 2008, according to Maso. “2007 was hit by flood claims and we had earnings around £50m for the year, but in 2008 we produced earnings of £120m,” he said.

GWP in commercial lines fell to £1.04bn in 2008 from £1.10bn in 2007.

Axa said this could be attributed to tough market conditions and its focus on profitability.

Commercial property and liability were particularly affected, but commercial motor volumes remained stable because of increased business volumes and rate increases.

Personal lines produced GWP of £1.1bn in 2008, up from £1.08bn the previous year.

The insurer said it envisaged strong growth in household lines through the introduction of new schemes with key partners and winning new business through third parties such as the AA.