Lloyd’s insurer chief says UK personal lines book could double

Bronek Masojada Hiscox

Hiscox sees “huge opportunity” in the UK market despite flat growth in 2012 to date, says chief executive Bronek Masojada.

Hiscox’s UK business grew gross written premiums by 1.1% in the first nine months of 2012, to £283m (9M 2011: £280m). UK growth was stunted largely because the company exited two MGA relationships at the end of 2011.

Masojada said: “Business has been a bit slow in the UK on aggregate but we still see huge opportunity in the UK.”

He pointed to the company’s planned York office, which will open in 2013 and that will have 300 staff.

He added that the company had been able to make up the ground lost by exiting the MGA relationships. “The UK has had a good performance in a tough environment.”

Masojada also has high hopes for Hiscox’s UK personal lines business. He said: “Hiscox’s largest personal lines market share is here in the UK. We still think over time that business could double in size.”

Sandy losses

Hiscox could be in line for claims from Superstorm Sandy, which hit the US east coast last week, but the company says it is too early for meaningful estimates.

Masojada said that he expected industry-wide insured losses to be towards the upper end of risk modelling firm EQECAT’s estimate of between $10bn (£62.6bn) and $20bn.

However, he added that the loss was no surprise for Hiscox. “Obviously, Superstorm Sandy has upset the apple cart a bit, but we prepare for events of that size. We have realistic disaster scenarios. It is a traumatic for the people it affects but from our point of view it is an expected loss.”

He acknowledged  that the event is significant - potentially the third-costliest hurricane ever - , and could affect rates, but he added: “Because it is an expected loss it won’t have that material an impact.”