The insurer sees a £155m jump in underwriting gains for 2019

RSA Insurance Group has reported a record underwriting profit for 2019 of £405m, excluding exits – this is £155m higher than its full-year underwriting profit in 2018 of £250m.

The insurer showcased its climbing profits within its full-year financial results for 2019, published today.

RSA also noted improvements in its combined operating ratio (COR), moving from 96.2% in 2018 to 93.6% at the end of 2019, excluding exits. Profit before tax has increased too, rising from £480m in 2018 to £551m, excluding exits, for 2019.

The report stated that RSA’s boosted underwriting profit and COR were achieved on a flat premium income with improvements in attritional loss ratio, weather and large loss costs, but a reduction in prior year development.

Group-wide net written premiums, however, remained static at £6,400m, excluding exits, for 2019. This compares to £6,470m in 2018.

In its report, RSA explained that data science was heavily influencing its approach to underwriting and claims handling, for example the use of artificial intelligence (AI) and analytics.

The firm added that it plans to continually invest in its personal lines, excepting motor underwriting, where technology-driven re-tooling is already underway.

For commercial lines, RSA said “the year went even better than planned” despite completing UK portfolio exits.

UK focus

In the UK and international specifically, excluding portfolio exits, net written premiums amounted to £2,864m. Net earned premiums were £2,893m and net incurred claims recorded a £1,773m loss.

The overall underwriting result for the UK and Ireland, excluding exits, reached £144m. Breaking this down further, the current year’s underwriting result stood at £131m at the end of 2019. The prior year’s underwriting result, at the end of 2019, was £13m.


The results report stated that premium incomes at RSA were down 7% in its UK and international region, with portfolio exits contributing five percentage points to this decrease. UK personal line premiums dropped 11% over the course of the period, with exits influencing 1.5 percentage points of this. Household premiums were also down by 10% - the sale of Oak Home accounted for three percentage points of this.

Stephen Hester, RSA group chief executive, said: “We are pleased to report strong results for RSA in 2019. Our profits are up, our dividends are up and return on tangible equity is very good. This progress is driven by improved underwriting, which has produced record current year profits and combined ratio.

“2019 was an important period for RSA. Significant management renewal and a repositioning of our UK and international division are showing good promise.

“Our group-wide focus on underwriting improvement with strong cost control proved effective. Yet there is plenty more we can do to improve each of our businesses for customers and shareholders. There are challenges, but we are determined to drive further progress and high performance.”