Just when you thought things couldn't get any worse, you're reminded they already are.

Groupama chief executive Tony Lancaster was giving his views on life, the universe and insurance at a London conference last week.

"The business of insurance today is a bloody awful business to be in," he said. "We are a complete and utter disaster from the underwriting point of view."

And just in case anyone got the wrong idea, he added: "I'm not trying to be negative, I'm trying to be practical." Phew. That's a relief, then.