Halifax insurance operations break £1bn premium barrier

Esure, the direct insurer launched by Direct Line founder Peter Wood, is to launch pet and travel products.

Chief executive Peter Graham told Insurance Times the new products could be on sale later this year.

He was speaking after joint-venture partner Halifax reported its insurance sales were up 21% through esure as well as its own brand and St Andrew's.

Together, Halifax operations broke the £1bn premium barrier to write £1.064bn of gross premiums last year. The number of in-force policies increased by 20% to 4.7 million.

The announcement came with preliminary annual financial results that showed the Halifax Bank of Scotland group made profits up 3% to £3bn.

Within its insurance operations, esure's launch last summer helped boost the group's motor customers by 15%.

Graham said esure had 250,000 motor customers and was on track to have one million policyholders within five years. But he declined to reveal esure's tally of household customers after the policies were launched last autumn.

Finance director for Halifax general insurance operations, Ian Black, said the group had improved its conversion rate for selling repayment protection policies to mortgage customers.

It had "thousands" of customers for its travel insurance, launched a month ago, and was on an "upward trend" for household renewals.

His target was to achieve two million household policies - a level not seen for about ten years, after Halifax lost customers to direct insurers.

A - number of in-force policies (000)
B - gross written premiums (£m)
2001 2000 2001 2000
Household 1,963 1,857 344 337
Repayment 2,160 1,581 631 466
Motor 490 425 75 66
Other 87 48 14 12
Total 4,700 3,911 1,064 881