Insurer also ends months of speculation with assurance that there’ll be no more merger talks

Chaucer returned to form this week, posting healthy results that included a 300% rise in profits before tax, excluding foreign exchange adjustments, to £52.6m.

Including the foreign exchange adjustments, part of the IFRS accounting rules, saw the profit before tax calculated at £17m, compared with £3.9m in the first half of 2008.

Chief executive Ewen Gilmour praised the insurer’s strong underwriting results and healthy investment return, saying it marked a return to normality following months of merger talks with suitors, including Novae and Brit.

Gilmour, who is standing down at the end of this year, said he did not expect any further merger talks. He said he would seek non-executive roles elsewhere.

Chaucer posted a 38% increase in GWP to £491m; and investment returns of 2.7%, or £34.6m. He warned that Chaucer had de-risked its investment portfolio and was unlikely to perform so well in the second half of the year.

Underwriting generated £28.6m of profit before investment income, compared with £6.6m year-on-year. Rates increased at an average of 5.9%, and the COR improved to 91.3% from 97.2%.

Gilmour said: “The outlook for the second half of the year and 2010 is also positive, with conditions improving in the majority of our markets.

“We are well placed, with our strong underwriting focus and diverse business mix, to benefit from this.”