Fortune favours Hiscox after catastrophe-free start to year

UPMARKET insurer Hiscox yesterday said total income from premiums hit £500m during the first three months of 2013.

The company also confirmed its bottom line has been boosted by the absence of major catastrophes during the quarter.

Recent years have seen catastrophes such as the Costa Concordia cruise ship disaster or the New Zealand earthquake hammer profitability but insurers have enjoyed a brief respite in recent months. “Fortune has favoured the industry this quarter,” said its CEO, Bronek Masojada. “For Hiscox, the absence of any catastrophes and growth in profitable lines has delivered a very good start to the year.”

Customers of Hiscox’s UK business contributed almost a fifth of total group income as the company successfully retained wealthy clients who insure their belongings and art with the company. The fast-growing division is in the process of opening a large new office in York as it looks to grow its customer base outside the south east of England.

Meanwhile Hiscox’s Lloyd’s of London syndicates grew premiums by 15.9 per cent to £209.5m.

Analyst Marcus Barnard of Oriel Securities said the strong operating results were the result of “a solid management team and clear organic growth strategy”.

However, he downgraded the company’s stock to “hold” on valuation grounds.