Specialist insurer’s household and commercial book grows to £88.2m

A growing property book has helped Sterling towards a 71% increase in profits.

The specialist insurer posted £9.3m in pre-tax profits in 2013, up from £5.4m in 2012.

Its household and commercial gross written premiums (GWP) increased by 5.8% during the period from £83.4m to £88.2m.

Most of Sterling’s growth came from new business wins, as its rates stayed fairly flat during the year.

Managing director John Blundell said: “Our household and commercial businesses performed well despite the severe flooding and storms experienced throughout December, with top line growth in line with expectations.

“We continue to operate within niche sectors in these markets, where our commitment to client and customer service and our underwriting skills and experience have driven this performance.

“Despite fierce competition in these markets, we enjoyed excellent new business volumes and strong customer retention levels which leaves us very well positioned for further growth in 2014.”

Sterling’s commercial book is focused on small businesses that own their premises. Blundell told Insurance Times such business owners were more “emotionally connected” to their premises and as likely to pay better care to their building.  

Brokers ranked Sterling in first place in Insurance Times’ Broker Service Survey 2013/14 for commercial lines and third for personal lines.

“It is our total commitment to brokers and clients that sets us apart from many of our competitors, and we continue to work with them to improve our product and service offering,” Blundell added.

Sterling works with several hundred brokers and 69 partnership brokers, who aim to give Sterling business in return for enhanced commissions or profit share agreements.

Including life insurance and its shrinking payment protection book, Sterling’s group GWP shrank from £168.6m to £155.1m, and its combined ratio improved from 107.5% to 97.3%.

Sterling handled an additional £141.6m of GWP through its administration business.

The company is privately owned by founder and chairman Nicholas Cooper.