Weather claims cost the group up to £3m more than normally expected in the quarter

“Highly competitive” market conditions pushed Esure’s gross written premium (GWP) down 0.6% to £123.5m in the first quarter of 2014 from £124.2m in the same quarter last year.

The personal lines insurer’s motor GWP fell by 0.5% and home GWP dropped 1% in the quarter as rates fell in both business lines.

Esure group chief executive Stuart Vann said: “As we indicated at our preliminary results in March, market conditions remained highly competitive during Q1 with further market rate reductions across both motor and home.

“In this environment, we have maintained a disciplined approach to underwriting with gross written premiums broadly flat in Q1 2014 compared to Q1 2013.”

The company said it expected conditions to remain competitive for the remainder of 2014.

ASR drop

Additional service revenues (ASR) fell 3.5% to £24.7m (Q1 2013: £25.6m), but if claims income was excluded it would have been up by 9.5% to £23.1m (Q1 2013: £21.1m).

Additional services revenues (ASR) includes sales of underwritten and non-underwritten additional insurance products to motor and home insurance customers, instalment interest on premium payment plans, policy administration fees and legal panel membership fees.

Claims income includes fees that have been generated from the appointment of firms used during the claims process, including medical, vehicle repair and car hire suppliers.

The number of in-force policies went up by 1.5% to 1.96 million in the three months to 31 March (Q1 2013:1.79 million).

Weather claims

Esure said severe weather events at the start of Q1 2014 would cost £3m more than normally expected during the quarter, but that this was a the lower end of the estimate it gave in March.

Vann said: “Our customers are at the heart of everything we do and we have continued to assist those customers affected by the severe weather events in the first quarter in a fast and efficient manner.”