Sometimes the headline results don’t tell the whole story.
Take a quick glance at Hiscox’s 2017 full-year results and you might assume it’s all bad news for the insurer – after all, its profit before taxed slumped by more than £300 million from £354.5 million in 2016, to just £30.8 million in 2017. However, assessing this figure alone would be overlooking what was a remarkable year for the sector in general on the back of historic levels of natural catastrophes.
In fact, during the year Hiscox increased its gross premiums written – up from £2,402.6 million in 2016 to £2,549.3 million this time around. However, its group combined ratio dropped from 84.2% in 2016 to 99.9% in 2017 on the back of those dreaded catastrophes – with hurricanes Maria, Irma and Harvey, the Mexico earthquakes and the California wildfires, among those to have had an impact.
In terms of the individual aspects of its business, Hiscox Retail now makes up 56% of the group’s GWP and its profits surpassed £100 million for the second year in a row. Hiscox USA was also seen as a standout performer with 29% premium growth in consistent currency. Meanwhile, Hiscox London Market reduced premiums by 20% “as planned”.
“Our long-held strategy of balance has served us well this year,” said Bronek Masojada, chief executive of Hiscox Ltd. “The strong growth and profits in retail countered the volatility felt in our big-ticket businesses which were impacted by an historic year for natural catastrophes. We have made significant investments in infrastructure and brand both of which will continue. Market pricing has improved and as a consequence we have growth ambitions for every part of our business.”