RSA upbeat as sales rise

Insurer RSA gave a confident outlook as acquisitions made over the last year helped boost its first-quarter sales.

RSA said its first-quarter net written premiums had risen by 8 percent from the previous year to 2.1 billion pounds, with turnover boosted by deals such as its acquisitions of Canadian insurer GCAN and Irish group 123 Money.

RSA added it expected to deliver a 2011 combined operating ratio (COR) - claims and expenses as a percentage of sales, a key measure of profitability for insurers - of more than 95 percent.

A combined operating ratio of below 100 per cent indicates that the company is making underwriting profit, while a ratio above 100 per cent means that an insurer is paying out more money in claims that it is receiving from premiums.

"The group has made a strong start to the year with the excellent top line momentum we generated in 2010 continuing in the first quarter of 2011," said RSA Chief Executive Andy Haste.

In February, FSA reported an 18 per cent drop in its 2010 profit, blaming a spike in claims as a result of unusually cold winter weather.