Boyle blames bad weather and competition for poor results

Royal & SunAlliance (R&SA) UK chief executive Duncan Boyle blamed bad weather for a loss of £149m in UK personal lines underwriting.

The 350% deterioration from 2001, when its underwriting lost £33m, made R&SA's UK personal lines results lag behind other operations.

Boyle said the UK personal lines result was worsened by "appalling weather losses".

He said: "A normal weather year would have turned that into a positive £70m result."

He added: "The personal lines market is underpriced and too competitive and there are too many players.

"The commercial market has never been stronger in terms of a hard rating environment. But on the personal lines side, we have a different scenario - a very soft market and an over-competitive market where everybody wants to play."

The segment, identified for cutbacks by R&SA last year, returned a combined ratio of 110.4% in 2002 compared to 102.8% the year before.

Net premiums written in the segment decreased by 3% to £1.65m from £1.69m the year before.

By contrast, UK commercial lines made an underwriting profit for 2002 of £1m, compared to a loss of £421m the year before.

The UK commercial combined ratio was 98.2% in 2002 compared to 113.2% the year before.

The overall UK general business result based on a longer term investment return was £216m, up from a loss of £19m in 2001.

This is equivalent to a return on capital of 11% for 2002.

The results were impacted particularly by a £653m charge for lost goodwill and a £551m charge reflecting short term investment fluctuations.

The group will pay about £30m a year into its pension funds to make up a £300m deficit, based on calculations using the FRS17 accounting standard. Employee payments will contribute another £15m a year from 2005.

The group's earnings per share figure was a loss of 66.5p.