‘Profitable growth.’ It’s one of those clichés trotted out by every insurer you speak to.
They all claim that they would never, ever dream of chasing volume at the expense of profit, looking wide-eyed, innocent and hurt at the very suggestion.
The thing is, they can’t all be telling the truth. Because if no one in the commercial market is holding down prices, then premiums would be rising, no?
This isn’t a veiled attack on AXA’s Paul Evans, interviewed this week on page 16, because everyone is doing the same thing. The market is jittery because Evans has given new commercial boss Amanda Blanc a clear mandate to grow the business significantly, and people just don’t see how she will manage it without offering price incentives. NIG’s recent behaviour is a clear signal that money talks.
The market needs a leader, but no one’s putting their hand up. Aviva got badly burned a couple of years ago when it tried to turn the market – and nobody followed suit. It won’t be making the same mistake again.
And so we go on. The market will probably have to turn at some point, when losses get so eye-watering that insurers have literally no choice – a repeat of what happened in private motor last year.
Until then, ‘profitable growth’ will remain the Scarlet Pimpernel of UK GI: ‘They seek him here, they seek him there, those Frenchies seek him everywhere.’ Not to mention the Brits. IT