Extreme weather losses push Royal Sun Alliance profits down 14 per cent

BURST pipes put a dampener on insurer Royal Sun Alliance’s full-year results yesterday, though profits were better than analysts expected.

Damage to homes from extreme winter weather caused RSA’s pre-tax profit to fall 14 per cent to £474m, from £554m in 2009, despite raising premium income 11 per cent to £7.5bn from £6.7bn.

Chief executive Andy Haste also announced a shift towards emerging markets in 2011 and a target to double emerging market premiums to £2.2bn by 2015.

Haste said 2010 was “an extremely tough year for the industry”, with group losses £255m more than normal levels and £175m up on 2009.

Analysts said RSA was strongly managed and the results were expected after a profit warning. “The headline figures were fractionally above guidance,” said Panmure Gordon analyst Barrie Cornes, adding that return on equity was an “impressive” 16 per cent before weather-related losses.