Lloyd’s insurer confirms plan to open primary insurance operation in Bermuda in 2009.

Hardy will open its primary insurance operation in Bermuda by this time next year, the company said this week on the release of its 2007 results.

Unveiling a record pre-tax profit tax of £18.3m for the year, the Lloyd’s insurer said it expected to complete phase two of its redomiciliation to Bermuda within 12 months, having completed the corporate restructure that comprised phase one.

The record profit, up £1.5m on 2006, was backed by gross written premiums of £147.5m, up £41.4m, while the combined ratio rose 3.6 points to 80.5%.

Chief executive Barbara Merry said: “We achieved what we set out to do in 2007. As a result of the Bermuda redomiciliation process, we have secured the future ability of the business to underwrite via both London and Bermuda platforms.”

Hardy will underwrite in Bermuda via a binding authority granted by the London business, in order to offer Lloyd’s security.

The company also stated that its strategy was to grow organically, and that a merger between its two syndicates, 382 and 3820, might be a future option to temper Syndicate 3820’s volatility.

Commenting on the proposed changes to the Lloyd’s Act, which will see Lloyd’s brokers lose their exclusive access to the market, Hardy said in its statement: “We remain absolutely committed to them [Lloyd’s brokers] as the face of Hardy to the policyholder, although increasingly, our underwriters are also seeking more direct access to insureds, which can only help us build our position longer term.”

The record profit came despite a 13.5% loss on investment equities. Hardy said: “We remain convinced by the expertise of the manager, who generated a positive return of 46% and 26% in 2006 and 2005 respectively and, accordingly, are taking a long term view of performance.”

Hardy currently operates a Bermuda holding company, Hardy Underwriting Bermuda, and a Bermuda Class 3 reinsurer, Hardy Re, on top of its Lloyd’s platform. Hardy Re will write quota share reinsurance for Hardy’s syndicates.