Insurer increases motor market share 

Hastings Group reported “record” profit and improved key ratios for 2017 as it increased its share of the UK motor insurance market.

The insurer said competition continues to be “intense”, with premium inflation slowing since the end of the third quarter, when the government announced it would revise its early cut in the Ogden discount rate.

Looking ahead, the company said: “We remain confident of delivering on all of our targets during 2019.”

The group reported live policy numbers increased 13% to 2.64 million at the end of 2017, while its UK motor market share rose to 7.3% from 6.5% a year earlier.

Gross written premiums were up 21% to £930.8m, and net revenue rose 21% to £715.6m. Adjusted operating profit rose 39% to £184.1m. Before the impact of the Ogden rate cut, operating profit was £132.1m, or up 21% from £152.1m.

The calendar year loss ratio of 73.0% was better than the group’s target range of between 75% and 79% and was an improvement from 2016’s 77.7%, or 73.7% before the impact of the Ogden rate change.

Last month, Hastings announced changes at the top, with Mike Fairey due to retire as chairman at the annual meeting on 24 May, to be succeeded by Gary Hoffman, and Hoffman replaced as chief executive by Toby van der Meer.

“We continue to provide our customers with straightforward service and products and have improved our calendar year loss ratio to 73.0%, better than our target range, through disciplined underwriting,” Hoffman said.

Van der Meer said: “We have great momentum and our 2017 record profits are testament to our agile, data driven business model and the passion and commitment of our 3,100 colleagues.

“Over the last few years we have grown from a small private company to a plc with over 2.6 million customer policies. With over 31 million cars and 20 million homes in the UK, and increased consumer switching through digital channels, we have plenty of opportunity for further growth. Looking ahead I want to ensure Hastings remains a leader in using digital and technology to make insurance straightforward for customers.”