Premium volume up 4% in first nine months of 2007

Brit Insurance this morning reported that gross premiums written by the group for the 9 months to 30 September 2007 totalled £1,020.1m (30 September 2006: £978.3m), an increase of 4.3%. Premium growth, when adjusted for exchange rate movements was 9.2%.

The majority of its premium growth came from Brit Global Markets which had an underlying increase of 14.7% to £565.9m (30 September 2006: £522.2m). Business written by the Reinsurance Underwriting Centre totaled £226.1m (30 September 2006: £236.8m), an underlying increase of 1.7%.

Premiums written by Brit UK were £228.1m (30 September 2006: £219.3m), an underlying increase of 4.5%, which the company said reflected the investment made in its regional network.

“Rates achieved by Brit Global Markets and Brit Reinsurance have been in line with our expectation, with modest decreases in most areas, albeit from a good margin environment. Brit UK rates have stabilised in property and motor, giving weight to our view that the market should start to improve in the second half of 2008,” Brit said.

The company said that compared with the very benign levels of 2006, claims frequency and severity had returned to more normalised levels across most classes. There claims from events such as the Australian floods, European Windstorm Kyrill, the UK floods, sub-prime, the California wildfires and a number of aviation and space losses.

Brit Insurance’s net claims arising from the July floods was £6.6m. Following a reduction in its claims for the June floods to £9.5m from £10.6m, the combined net claims for both the June and July floods is £16.1m.

Brit Insurance’s investment portfolio had minimal exposure to sub-prime debt, it added.

Dane Douetil, Brit Insurance CEO said: “The third quarter has built on the solid performance of the first half year and was particularly pleasing given the weakness of the dollar. Set against a more volatile financial environment, our investment return for the quarter was strong.

"While rates in Brit Global Markets and Brit Reinsurance remain at satisfactory levels, they are under continued downward pressure from the high levels of the last two years. The UK market remains challenging but rates are generally stabilising and we expect to see an improvement in the next 12 months. Given normal loss activity for the rest of the year, we are confident that our full year result will be in line with market expectations.”