Conditions are challenging, says chairman

National Farmers’ Union Mutual profits crashed 57% last year and its underwriting loss deepened from £118m (2009) to £150m (2010), annual reports show.

The NFU’s profits declined from £366m in 2009 to £159m last year.

It did manage to increase its general insurance gross written premiums from £1.1bn (2009) to £1.21bn (2010), although net claims incurred increased from £866m to £979m.

Chairman Sir Don Curry admitted in his statement that conditions were challenging. “We experienced very different market conditions for general insurance, personal and commercial lines business in 2010.

“The industry saw rises in car insurance premiums, particularly for young drivers, while home insurance premiums continued the gently accelerating trend of rate rises that began in 2009,” he added.

“Insurers were also dealing with an increasing number of homes damaged by extreme weather and flash floods, often in places that had no history of flooding.

“Meanwhile, in the commercial market, trading conditions remained challenging with competition for fleed and liability remaining strong.”

Despite the dip in performance, the company said in its annual report statement that it was pleased with progress.

Chief executive Lindsay Sinclair, said in his statement: “Our general insurance business saw another good year of growth … We saw our gross written premium income reach £1.2bn.

“A number of factors meant that we made an underwriting loss before mutual bonus of £150m in 2010. However, this was better than planned even though the scale of weather events last year was not anticipated.”