Insurer close to naming new UK and Western Europe COO

Steve Lewis

RSA has hired former Zurich UK director of strategic transformation Clive White as UK transformation director as new UK and Western Europe chief executive Steve Lewis builds his top team.

Speaking to Insurance Times following the release of RSA’s first quarter trading statement, Lewis said the company is also close to naming a chief operating officer for the UK and Western Europe division – a newly created position.

The hires follow the appointment of Bill Paton as the division’s claims director in November last year and Helen Lloyd as HR director.

Lewis said: “This is all about setting the bench, recognising that we have got a reasonable transformation journey ahead of us.”

RSA reported 6% growth in UK net written premium in the first quarter of 2015. Stripping out the effect of reinsurance changes and other one-offs, the growth was 3%, but still higher than rival Aviva’s 1% UK general insurance growth.

Lewis said: “I feel there is some good momentum within the organisation. We know one quarter doesn’t make a year but it is a good start to the year.”

While he did not reveal figures, Lewis also said that underwriting performance in his division had “positive momentum relative to this time last year”.

He added: “That gives us some confidence that some of the fundamentals we have been working on are starting to bed in and give us the foundation from which to build as we look out to the remaining quarters of the year.”

RSA achieved modest rate increases across its book in the first quarter of 2015. Personal household, personal motor, commercial property and commercial liability all achieved 1% rate rises, while commercial motor rates increased 2%.

Lewis said: “Single digits is still not sufficient to fully negate the headwinds of claims inflation and therefore I think there is still a requirement for further pricing strength across the industry relative to both the yield environment and the inflationary trends that exist.”

He added: “1% and 2% increases are better than no rate at all, but at the same time there is still a need to retain strong underwriting discipline in the face of what is still a fairly weak pricing environment.”