Zurich is expecting its UK gross written premium to stabilise in the second half of this year after recent falls related to re-underwriting and repricing of its UK motor book.

The company’s GWP dropped 7% to $502m (£312.2m) in the first quarter of this year, from $540m in the same period last year, as it continued to strip its motor book of unprofitable business.

The launch of its new direct motor product, however, which is now available on all four major aggregators, should start to reverse the trend, said the company.

Zurich’s re-underwriting efforts were masked in the first quarter, as increasing costs countered lower claims levels.

The company’s UK general insurance business reported a first-quarter combined ratio of 101.3%, almost unchanged from the 101.2% reported for the same period last year.

While the claims ratio fell 3.2 points to 69.8% (Q1 2011: 73%), this was cancelled out by a 3.4 point increase in the expense ratio to 31.5% (Q1 2011: 28.1%). Accordingly, the underwriting loss for the quarter remained unchanged at $8m (£5m).