Disappointing UK results took their toll on Crawford, the US-based loss adjuster.

The group was already suffering from careful underwriting by insurers, which cut claims frequency in the US, driving revenues down.

But chief executive Grover L Davies picked out falling margins in the UK as an obvious let-down.

He said: "We are particularly disappointed in the results of our UK operations where we experienced a loss in the 2003 second quarter after posting profitable results in this year's first quarter. We have entered into several new client service agreements and the claims associated with those have been slow to develop."

But claims should pick up, he said, bringing volumes back to a point where business should be profitable from the fourth quarter.

Revenues from Crawford's insurer customers were $62.2m (£39.3m) in the second quarter, against $68.3m (£43.1m) in the same period last year. Second quarter revenues were $176.3m (£111.3m) down from $178m (£112.3m) the year before.

Davies said that the overall 17% decline in claims referred to Crawford in the US was the result of "conservative underwriting" and contributed to a decline in property and casualty claims.

Crawford results

  • First half revenue down 1.8% to $344m (£217m) from $350m (£220m)
  • First half earnings up 1.6% to $17m (£10.7m) from $16.8m (£10.6m)