Fortis is to keep reducing its dependence on private car insurance, according to chief executive Barry Smith.

Smith said that Fortis would continue to develop its presence in the small commercial and household markets. He added that the company would be trying to better understand risks at the edge of its existing risk profiles. That meant more risks would qualify for competitive quotes from the insurer. Fortis had £40m per year gross written premium commercial book and £90m household book, said Smith.

Smith added that commercial vehicle policies and motorcycle policies could also be in the pipeline.

The move away from private motor, which accounted for 70% of Fortis' gross written premium, had been prompted by flat rates and continuing claims inflation, said Smith. "This will hit margins, but with our operating ratios, we have some headroom," he added.

Smith said that Fortis would not be segmenting its brokers, despite the onset of regulation-prompted consolidation.

He added that Fortis was also in talks with Polaris' I-market and other software houses about improving electronic distribution.

Fortis premiums rise

Fortis has posted increases in commercial and personal premium income during the first three months of 2003.

Commercial premiums increased by 49% to £9.4m in the first quarter, up from £6.3m in 2002. Meanwhile, household premiums increased by 11% to £21.6m.

Its motor premiums were down by 9% to £88.8m during the first quarter - reflecting its decision to shift emphasis on to core areas such as commercial.