Anti-fraud system rolls out, as 2004 figures show profitable growth

AXA is set to take on fraudsters in the commercial, travel and creditor sectors following successful implementation of anti-fraud systems in the household market, according to chief executive Peter Hubbard.

Announcing 2004 results that show revenue and profit growth against a falling combined ratio, Hubbard said that 35% of all calls routed through its conversation management anti-fraud system resulted in reduced claims settlements.

He added that the system, where callers were subjected to carefully monitored questioning, was being applied to commercial property claims and would be applied to other lines such as motor, travel and creditor.

AXA announced that its UK revenues rose to £1.9bn in 2004 compared to £1.8bn in 2003 and that its combined ratio improved to 98.2%.

"The UK has the lowest combined ratio of any regional division. We're no longer singled out for special 'sick list' mentions at group meetings," said Hubbard.

While AXA's private motor book shrank by 26%, mainly due to the sale of AXA Direct to the RAC, other personal lines showed double digit revenue growth (see box).

Commercial lines revenue grew less strongly with property up 7% and casualty up 6%. Hubbard said premiums in casualty were up 12.5% in the year, meaning that fewer casualty policies were now in force.

Hubbard said that expense ratios were down to 12.2% compared to 15.5% three years ago and that headcounts had fallen to 3,360 from 5,500 over the same period.

Post-tax profits for 2004 were £41m compared to a loss of £13.2m in 2003.

AXA's automated system for small business quotes and cover, AXA Business Risk, is handling 30% of all AXA's small business, Hubbard said.