Groupama is targeting premium income growth of 15% from both small and medium enterprise (SME) commercial and healthcare in 2004 as a result of its new distribution strategy.

Distribution and customer services director Amanda Blanc said that by designing an intermediary rather than product-led strategy the company believes it could increase commercial/SME income to £80m, healthcare income to £75m and commercial motor income to £45m in 2004.

It will primarily target chains, tele-brokers, large provincials and specialists brokers with a “high” level of activity, and brandassurers – such as supermarkets and high street stores – banks, super-provincials and networks with “selective high” activity.

In particular, Groupama has identified around 250 intermediaries it expects to “thrive” over the coming years.
But Blanc said the new strategy would not see a decrease in the 3,500 intermediaries it currently deals with.

In 2003, Groupama saw its gross written premium (GWP) drop as the company continued to implement its strategy of moving out of large and mid-sized commercial business.

Total GWP fell from £574m in 2002 to £500m.

During 2003 the company also completed a portfolio transfer in order to finalise the legal seperation of its run-off business. Managing director François-Xavier Boisseau said £500m of liabilities from London Market and US operations were now entirely ring-fenced in Minster Insurance.

Profit from ongoing businesses improved with a £10.5m net profit after tax in 2003 compared to a loss of £21m in 2002. It recorded a combined ratio (excluding investment income) of 100% in 2003, down from 105.7% in 2002.

In commercial lines the ratio fell from 116.2% to 99.5%. But with GWP of £355m personal lines represents the majority of Groupama’s portfolio.

Boisseau said the company’s key strategy for 2004 was to grow its commercial and healthcare businesses.