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Insurance Company of the Year

The insurance sector has had a tough time, coming off the back of a devastating series of natural disasters both last year and throughout 2018. Bright spots were few and far between, but these five shortlisted firms have managed to carve out a successful 12 months, whether through strategic M&A, a focus on underwriting quality or by lifting market share at the expense of the competition.

Nominations 2019

Phoenix Group

A sector once dominated by big City players faces a fresh challenge as a wave of tech innovators disrupt the status quo. With large companies weighed down by global recession fears and more dramatic weather events, this year’s nominees reflect the growing presence of insurtech servicing increasingly savvy customers. While tech innovators have been slower to target insurance than other parts of the financial sector, this is finally changing. This is the year that Insurtech UK became an official industry body and tied up with Department for Trade.

Policy Expert

Launched in 2011, Policy Expert wins over new customers on price comparison websites with its pledge to reward loyalty and offer simple policies explained in plain English. The strategy, which also leans on advanced data analytics to improve efficiency, appears to be working, with the company passing the 550,000 mark for live home policies this year. The privately-owned business has an appetite for expansion, snapping up SureThing in June, with founder Adam Powell – who started his career as an analyst at XL Capital – taking over as the motor insurer’s new CEO. Policy Expert is consistently ranked No1 for customer service and has sold 2.3m policies in total, more than any other brand through price comparison websites.

LV

LV almost trebled its profits before tax in the first of 2019, despite taking a hit from Ogden rate changes. The company is undergoing a transformation having agreed to sell its general insurance business to German giant Allianz. LV also secured the backing of its members to convert to a mutual company limited by guarantee which could pave the way to a future sale or merger of the group.

Brolly

An artificial intelligence-driven app that scans your emails and compiles all your insurance policies in one place, Brolly now offers its own coverage after hooking up with last year’s City A.M. Insurance Company of the Year, Hiscox. Brolly Contents signals the potential Netflixification of retail insurance, with customers paying a monthly subscription which can be terminated at any point, and which actually decreases with each month that the user sticks around, rewarding loyalty in a sector that often does the opposite. Little wonder that founder Phoebe Hugh, who started her career at Aviva, was named in Forbes’ 30 under 30 earlier this year.

Zurich

Go back four years and Zurich’s standing in London was hardly stellar; the Swiss behemoth was forced to abandon its mega-takeover of British insurer RSA amid problems in its own business that saw shares drop below 200 Swiss francs in early 2016. Enter new chief executive Mario Greco and suddenly Zurich can boast a far better 2019 than its peers. Shares are close to 360 Swiss francs, up more than 20 per cent this year, making Zurich Switzerland’s most valuable financial company. The business’ repositioning has protected it from excessive costs of natural disasters helping net income exceed $2bn in the first half of the year. “Zurich stands out to us as one of the best positioned insurers,” said Jefferies in a recent note – it’s hard to disagree.

Previous winners

  • 2018: Hiscox
  • 2017: RSA Group
  • 2016: Admiral
  • 2015: Hiscox
  • 2014: Standard Life
  • 2013: Prudential
  • 2012: Prudential
  • 2011: Admiral
  • 2010: Admiral

History

This category has run since the City A.M. Awards launched in 2010.