Groupama’s UK arm posted an 84% rise in pre-tax profits, making it an attractive target for the right buyer

Groupama’s group results may have taken a hit, but the French insurer’s UK results from 2011 are very healthy. Its combined UK operations pre-tax profits climbed to £43.5m last year from £23.7m in 2010.

The insurer has done particularly well in the motorcycle business, growing it by almost 20%.

Indeed, Groupama has been reaping the dividends from concentrating on more specialist areas – by the end of 2011 almost 40% of Groupama’s personal lines book was non-standard risks.

Groupama’s broking arm had a flat year, with £11.2m profits before tax (2010: £11.8m), but its EBITDA margin was still healthy at 24.5%.

Overall it’s a very good set of results, which show that the insurer’s UK arm is essentially in good health and that most of Groupama’s woes lie with the wider group – good news for any buyers, of course. Now it’s just a question of price.

All talk and no trousers

You only need to drive for five minutes on the average road to realise that many motorists still have a casual attitude to rules against speeding and driving while using a mobile phone, but now it seems insurers are taking the practice more seriously.

All the insurers on the AA Insurance panel will now increase premiums after a first speeding conviction, while a Moneysupermarket survey conducted for the Telegraph showed that drivers caught using mobiles can now expect premium rises of up to 60%, with some insurers refusing cover.

While sending a message to unsafe drivers is admirable, the fact that the industry still does not have easy access to the DVLA driver database begs the question: how effective will this crackdown be?