8 August 2018 Insurance

Hastings Group overcomes hurdles to post strong H1 results

Hastings Group, the UK driven insurance provider, enjoyed a 5 percent growth in its gross written premiums in the first half of the year and a 22 percent growth in its operating profit.

The insurer’s gross written premiums increased to £485.6m for the six months ended 30 June 2018 compared with £462 million in the same period a year earlier. Its operating profit increased to £105.1 million compared with £86.5 million in the same period the year before though this was boosted by £14.6m of prior year VAT recovery.

Toby van der Meer, chief executive officer, said: “I am pleased to announce a strong set of results for the first half of 2018 that has seen us grow our customer numbers to 2.7 million and adjusted operating profit by 22 percent to £105.1m. This has been in an environment where we have seen market prices come down from the highs of 2017, driven by lower claims frequencies, the prospect of regulatory reform, and competition. We have also seen adverse weather, continued fraud activity across the market, and some increase in the cost of repairs and mid-range bodily injury claims, resulting in a claims inflation outlook for the full year towards the upper end of a 3 percent to 5 percent range.

“We remain excited about the future – a fast moving and increasingly digital landscape plays to our strengths. Our capabilities in agile pricing, analytics and anti-fraud combined with our disciplined underwriting and strong capital position means we are well positioned to continue to identify and grow in profitable parts of the market. These core attributes have transformed our business from a small disruptor in 2011 into the household name we are today and will continue to drive our strategy in a large market with over 50 million car and home policies.

“Looking forward, we will continue to invest in technology. Alongside the continued rollout and enhancements to our core Guidewire platform, we have developed new digital capabilities over the last few months and very recently, launched our new Hastings mobile app. Our pricing and anti-fraud platforms also continue to develop and we have identified and taken action against over 30 different fraud rings so far this year. Today we are also announcing our participation in a mobility and vehicle technology research programme alongside a range of other partners from the automotive and mobility sectors.

“Our strong financial position and continuing cash generation means we are declaring an interim dividend of 4.5p per share, a 10% increase over last year and allows us to move towards a policy of increasing distributions to shareholders over time now our leverage target has been achieved.

We remain on track to meet all our 2019 targets and I would like to thank my 3,400 colleagues for what they do for our customers and each other, every day. It is their hard work, passion and commitment that has achieved a set of results that we can all be proud of.”

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