Home NEWS ENTERTAINMENT Profits shoot up at Hastings in the first half of 2018

Profits shoot up at Hastings in the first half of 2018

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CFO Richard Hoskins says focus is on “disciplined growth” and investing in digital initiatives.

Hastings Group has revealed a 22% rise in operating profit to £105.1m for the six months ended 30 June 2018 (H1 2017: £86.5m).

In addition its gross written premium (GWP) increased by 5% to £485.6m, compared to £462.0m in the first half of 2017.

The business also posted a 9% increase in net revenue to £376.3m for the six month period (H1 2017: £345.2m). Combined operating ratio remained relatively flat at 89.3% (H1 2017: 88.9%).

Hastings chief financial officer Richard Hoskins described the figures as a “rounded set of results”, which he said supported the firm’s business model.

Agile
He told Insurance Age: “We’re growing through being in the right place, having the right business model, being agile in our pricing and being very disciplined in our underwriting.”

Adding: “Premiums aren’t growing as fast as they did last year, but we’re managing profitably and growing our book through this part of the cycle and that’s something we’re very pleased with.”

Looking at private car its GWP rose to £464.6m (H1 2017: £438.9m), while its bike business GWP increased to £9.6m (H1 2017: £8.2m).

In van GWP dropped to £7.9m, compared to £12.4m in the same time period in 2017, while GWP in its home division rose to £3.5m (H1 2017: £2.5m).  

Home
Hoskins stated that the business would focus on growing its home division as a “key diversifier” from its otherwise motor-heavy book.

“We continue to see home as a big opportunity for us,” he explained. “In a way I’m glad that we weren’t underwriting much home business in the first half because the first quarter weather impact has been quite significant for many of the home players.

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Hoskins was also pleased that Hastings has grown its share of the UK private car insurance market to 7.5% from 7%, and noted the business saw opportunities to grow further in motor.

Toby van der Meer became chief executive officer of Hastings earlier this year, taking over the role from Gary Hoffman who is now a non-executive chairman.

Digital
Hoskins stated that van der Meer had “started to put his mark on the business”, adding: “Toby’s very much a modern leader in terms of his digital background and the way he looks at the business.

“We’re talking more and more about what we’re doing in that space and that’s really exciting for the future of the business.”

Hastings has recently invested in driverless cars by partnering with the UK Smart Mobility Living Lab.

“They’re developing the real world trials of connected and autonomous vehicles in Greenwich,” Hoskins said.

“It’s all quite exciting and sets us up to get a lot of useful and insightful information about what the driverless cars will mean and the opportunities that creates.”

In addition, the firm has also launched a mobile app, which Hoskins claimed would “provide a lot of capabilities for customers”.

He added: “We’ll see what the take up is like but so far we’re very pleased with how it’s going.”

Future
Looking at the rest of the year, Hoskins noted that Hastings’ focus would be on continued disciplined growth.

“We’ll keep our discipline around pricing and where we grow our book at a continued time of claims inflation and equally keeping our eye on the long game and making investments in digital initiatives,” he concluded.

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