Monday 25 February 2019 8:56 am

Hiscox profits treble as London market returns to growth

Insurer Hiscox announced its profits trebled last year as it returned to growth in its London market for the first time in three years.

The firm also revealed that it has completed its Brexit preparations and is ready for the UK to leave the EU “even if British politicians are not”.

The figures

Pre-tax profit was $137.4m (£105m) in the year to the end of December 2018, up from $39.7m the previous year, the Lloyd’s of London underwriter announced this morning. Profits were seven per cent ahead of the company's estimate.

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Gross premiums grew 15 per cent from $3286m to $3778m in the period. 

Meanwhile, the insurer's Brexit preparations have cost Hiscox an estimated $15m in one off costs, most of which was incurred last year, and will continue to cost $2.4m a year.

Why it matters

The firm’s London market was the “standout performer” of the year as the business returned to growth and profit after three years of action to reduce or exit unprofitable activity. Since the end of 2016 the London team has exited $400m of “challenged business” and replaced it with stronger performing business.

The firm has established a presence in Luxemburg as part of its Brexit preparations, and will use Lloyd’s Brussels to ensure risks in the Eurozone which were previously placed with Lloyd’s of London.

What the company said

Hiscox chief executive Bronek Masojada said: “We have generated strong growth and good profits in a busy year for claims.

“The tough action we took in our London market business is paying off, and we are seeing some positive momentum in big-ticket lines, where rates, terms and conditions are improving.

“We are growing well in our chosen retail segments, and our small market shares mean the size of the opportunity in retail remains immense.

“We will continue to invest in our people, infrastructure and brand and maintain our focus on disciplined growth.”

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What analysts said

Shore Capital Markets analyst Paul De'Ath said: "As we have seen with Hiscox’s peers, 2018 was a challenging year but 2019 and beyond look more positive, assuming there are not the same level of global catastrophe events seen over the last two years.

"The results are slightly ahead of expectations and should provide enough to give the shares a boost this morning, in our view."