The insurer’s UK and Ireland arm also suffered an underwriting loss following ’larger than expected’ prior year claims

Ecclesiastical has revealed that the combined operating ratio (COR) for its UK and Ireland general insurance business increased in H1 2023 amid its underwriting results taking a hit.

In a trading update published today (27 September 2023), the insurer revealed that its UK and Ireland arm reported an underwriting loss of £6.5m in the six months to June 2023, down from a £4.8m profit in H1 2022.

Ecclesiastical explained that the underwriting result was impacted by “larger than expected” prior year claims in the UK as well as a major fire at St Mark’s Church in London in January.

The insurer also revealed that its UK and Ireland COR deteriorated, increasing from 94.5% to 106.6% year-on-year.


Despite this, the insurer’s UK and Ireland arm reported a gross written premium (GWP) of £190.9m in the six months to June 2023, up from £165.5m in H1 2022.

This was driven by rate strengthening, according to Ecclesiastical, which was supported by strong retention and new business.

“Ecclesiastical UK is pushing hard for sustainable profitable growth and reported excellent GWP growth of 16% thanks to a number of new business wins,” group chief executive Mark Hews said.

“The UK business is investing significantly in its high net worth and schemes capabilities and expanding into new sectors as it pursues its strategy to ‘grow to give’.

“In particular, Ecclesiastical UK has successfully launched into the leisure market, including fine dining, gastropubs, high-quality hotels, arts and visitor attractions and exhibition centres.”

Group level

Meanwhile, at a group level, Ecclesiastical saw its GWP rise from £262m to £288m year-on-year due to new business wins.

It also achieved a profit before tax of £10.2m, up from a loss of £25.7m in H1 2022, while insurance revenue rose from £257.9m to £284.1m.

“This strong improvement has been supported by profits from our overseas businesses in Ireland, Canada and Australia, offset by some large losses impacting our UK underwriting result,” Hews said.

“The result is a testament to our brilliant teams delivering against the plans and structures we’ve put in place.”

He added that the insurer had the “appetite and capacity” to achieve its goal of becoming a first-choice insurer in specialist markets.

“We have an exciting pipeline of propositions being developed and we will continue to invest in our systems and people so that we can deliver the best possible service to our customers and brokers,” Hews added.

“With a clear strategy and a purpose that drives us ever onward, I’m confident that we can continue our excellent progress and build a movement for good in society.”