Admiral speeds ahead despite motor insurance price battle

WELSH car insurance firm Admiral yesterday reported a healthy rise in profits – but admitted that fierce competition is affecting its British division.

“We didn’t grow the UK insurance business, which was great news because of the competitive environment,” said chief executive Henry Engelhardt.

“Any time you can increase profits by six per cent when competitors are cutting prices you’ve got to be happy.”

Despite customer numbers remaining stable at around 3m, turnover at the company’s UK motor division fell ten per cent to £924.5m for the first half of 2013.

But Peter Eliot, an analyst with Berenberg Bank, summarised yesterday’s half-year results as “profitable turnover falling, unprofitable rising”.

He said that the FTSE 100 firm’s international insurance operations were still a long way off profitability: “When Admiral set up these businesses, we believe that it would have hoped to have achieved this by now.”

Yesterday’s results mean more than 6,600 Admiral employees will receive £1,500 of shares each as part of the company’s famous worker reward scheme.