Hastings enjoys strong first quarter as it puts through selective price increases to join other rate risers

Gary Hoffman Hastings

Hastings has joined several other motor insurers that are beginning to put through price rises, according to chief executive Gary Hoffman.

The East Sussex-based insurance group enjoyed a strong first quarter in which customer numbers broke through the 1.5 million barrier and adjusted earnings before interest, taxation, depreciation and amortisation increased by 16% to £23.8 million compared with the same period last year.

But other rivals shrank their books under intense price pressure, leaving many to wonder when rates will harden.

Hoffman said: “We have put through selective small price increases through this year – not just in the first quarter but since the end of the first quarter as well. We have seen other people now put some price increases through in the last few weeks. Not everyone, but some people.

“My view has been that what we would expect, as Laspo reforms and price reductions run out and as the cycle at some time turns, premiums would start to rise – although not significantly. Our view is that it is likely to happen in 2014, but it is difficult to predict.”

Asked why Hastings was able to enjoy such strong growth – revenue jumped 26% to £107.4m – while some rivals such as Admiral and DLG have shrunk gross written premium, Hoffman stressed Hastings was a modern aggregator-focused business able to react quickly.

“It is when the market is very competitive that you need to be extremely agile and respond on a day-by-day and hour-by-hour basis. We admire lots of our competitors. There are some, however, who find it difficult to be as agile as we are,” he said.