Insurer targets new growth areas as it reports strong results

Royal and Sun Alliance (R&SA) will roll-out a suite of products for SMEs to brokers.

R&SA chief executive Duncan Boyle said: "The strong growth in UK commercial over the past year, based on our restructuring programme and more disciplined underwriting, means we can target new growth areas such as SMEs.

R&SA also announced its 2004 results for the 12 months to 31 December: R&SA commercial posted a £92m underwriting profit with an operating ratio of 93.5%. Its personal lines business made a profit of £14m in 2004 against a loss of £52m during 2003.

Net written premium was down in the general insurance business in 2004 to £2.5bn from £2.8bn in 2003 due to "more technical underwriting", said Boyle.

"We have stuck by our promise to remain disciplined in our underwriting, only writing for profit," he said.

Boyle added that the insurer was also benefiting from the "streamlining of its back office" and "investing in a new claims platform right across the business which is ahead of the competition."

R&SA's direct arm More Th>n gained a further two million customers during 2004, although it reported an underwriting loss of £6m compared to a loss of £8m in 2003.

' See R&SA's new SME product for hoteliers in this week's news pages