Strong growth in inflows 

  • Total income up 27.2% to GBP 1,035.2 million compared to 2009 
  • Non-Life Gross Written Premiums up 25.7% to GBP 1,011.7 million
  • New Annual Protection Premiums up 52.3% to GBP 22.7 million  
  • Increase in total inflows for Retail businesses of 47.8% to GBP 144.8 million  

Improvements in performance impacted by bad weather and one-off cost

  • Including bad weather events and one-off costs, result was loss of GBP 24.8 million
  • Excluding bad weather events and one-off costs, Profit Before Tax of GBP 51.5 million (GBP 17.3 million 2009)
  • Including bad weather events and one-off costs, Non-Life combined ratio was 109.5%
  • Excluding Q4 bad weather events and one-off costs, Non-Life combined ratio improved to 103.8% (108.1% 2009)

Progress in development of multi-distribution and product strategy

  • Strong growth in Non-Life Commercial lines, 33.0% GWP increase
  • Gross Written Premiums of GBP 86.6 million from new Tesco Underwriting partnership since mid October launch 
  • Number of Protection customers increased by 90% to over 120,000
  • Ageas now the 4th largest Personal lines broker in the UK following the successful integration of Kwik Fit Insurance Services

Well capitalised business 

  • Strong Non-Life capital position of GBP 326.5 million, more than double the FSA minimum

Announcing 2010 year end results, Barry Smith, Chief Executive of Ageas UK (formerly Fortis), commented:

“The fundamentals of our business are strong and good progress has been made in the delivery of our strategy to increase the breadth of our products through different distribution channels.  We delivered record levels of income in 2010 topping the £1 billion mark for the first time, as well as successfully integrating Kwik Fit Insurance Services and launching the Tesco Underwriting business on time and to plan. 

However, like the majority of the industry, we have not been immune to the exceptional weather that struck last year and this has adversely impacted our result which is clearly disappointing.  We also had significant one-off costs to support our growth. Without these combined costs, our profits would have increased well above 2009 levels. 

I’m absolutely delighted with the response of the market to our rebrand. Our strong service ethos, which remains very important to us, was again recognised by our brokers, clients and partners through the numerous awards and service accolades presented to us during 2010.  This gives us confidence in our business and we are focused on improving performance in 2011.”

Ageas UK (formerly Fortis) 

Ageas UK’s businesses have delivered record levels of income, reflecting the Group’s effective multi-distribution strategy and partnership approach with brokers, clients, IFAs and suppliers.  Growth has been seen across the business – in Personal and Commercial lines, Protection and through our Retail companies.  The combination of high quality service and low cost delivery remains a key area of focus for all the Ageas UK businesses.

Excluding the exceptional weather events and one-off costs in 2010, performance significantly improved.  This was driven by planned improvements made to Ageas UK’s underwriting rating structure for motor and the early action taken on rate increases, improving the combined ratio and profit performance.  Tesco Underwriting, the new motor and household insurance partnership with Tesco Bank, was launched successfully in October and Ageas’s Retail capability has been significantly strengthened by the purchase and integration of Kwik Fit Insurance Services in the second half of the year.  The launch of the new Ageas brand has been very well received in the market and across Ageas UK companies, 18 industry awards were won recognising excellence in customer service, product and technological innovation. 

The overall result was significantly impacted by the exceptional bad weather at both the beginning and, particularly, towards the end of 2010.  This resulted in total weather-related claims costs of £57.7 million compared to weather-related claims costs of £10.7 million in 2009.  The result also reflects one-off start up costs for the partnership with Tesco Bank, acquisition costs for Kwik Fit Insurance Services and an impairment charge in the Protection business.  The GBP 24.8 million loss before tax reflects these costs. 

Non-Life: 

Ageas Insurance Limited

Total Gross Written Premiums (GWP) in 2010 increased by 14.9% over the same period in 2009 to GBP 925.1 million, driven by the continued development of Ageas’s Personal and Commercial lines portfolios.

Growth in the Personal lines business reflected an increase in the Household and Travel books to GBP 239.9 million and GBP 57.4 million respectively (2009: GBP 208.3 million and GBP 48.5 million).  Private car GWP increased to GBP 440.7 million (2009: GBP 414.0 million). Ageas has continued its consistent approach of pricing in line with the underlying risk, with recent technical rating changes including full postcode rating. These actions have led to positive results on Ageas Insurance’s motor combined ratio which is now 105.4%, an improvement of 6.3% on 2009 levels.

Complementing its strong Personal lines performance, Ageas saw a 33.0% growth in Commercial lines GWP to GBP 163.9 million (2009: GBP 123.2 million) as a result of its proven strategy to expand in this sector.  During 2010, Ageas has launched fully into the Fleet market, improved its product offering with an enhanced Semploy Extra proposition, broadened its commercial underwriting footprint and is continuing to develop its electronic trading capability making it easier and more efficient for brokers to write Commercial lines business.

Ageas Insurance Limited’s combined ratio in 2010 was 108.8% (108.1% in 2009) which reflected increased claims caused by the severe winter weather.  Without the weather events, the combined ratio would have been 102.9%.

The impact of the exceptional weather is reflected in Ageas Insurance Limited’s loss of GBP 16.6 million.  Excluding the impact of the bad weather, Profit Before Tax was GBP 41.1 million.

Tesco Bank Partnership:  

Tesco Underwriting, the new insurance business with Tesco Bank, of which 50.1 per cent is owned by Ageas, began transacting business in mid October on time and to plan.  The business now has over 220,000 customers representing GWP of GBP 86.6 million.  The partnership, focusing on Motor and Household business, is expected to provide cover for over 1.5 million customers with an annual GWP of approximately GBP 500 million.  Set-up costs of GBP 8.7 million are reflected in Ageas UK’s overall result.  

Life: 

Ageas Protect (formerly Fortis Life) continued to make good progress, with reported New Annual Premiums of GBP 22.7 million (2009: GBP 14.9 million).  This continued growth reflected the successful roll out of the company’s Protection proposition to an increasing number of Independent Financial Advisers (IFAs).  By the end of the fourth quarter of 2010, the business had a 6.4% IFA market share (4.3% in fourth quarter 2009).  

In just its third year of operation, the business now provides cover to over 120,000 customers, an increase of 90% compared to last year. Growth in the Protection business has been heavily driven by its award-winning approach to underwriting, market-leading technology and product innovation.  Ageas Protect has also recently been voted the Best Overall Protection Provider by LifeSearch and has won Best Underwriting Team and Best E-Commerce Provider for the second year running.

The business, which was launched in July 2008, carried a pre-tax loss of GBP 10.2 million in 2010 (2009: loss of GBP 7.2 million). This includes a one-off impairment charge of GPB 5.6 million related to a commercial partner that has subsequently gone into liquidation. 

Other Insurance Activities: 

Ageas UK’s Retail operations, RIAS, Kwik Fit Insurance Services and Ageas Insurance Solutions (UKAIS), continued to trade well in a competitive environment. The Retail operations delivered a 47.8% increase in total inflows to GBP 144.8 million, driven by good customer retention, strong portfolio growth, add-on revenues, growth in partnership income and the addition of Kwik Fit Insurance Services from the beginning of August. Revenue excluding Kwik Fit Insurance Services increased 6.3% compared to the same period last year.

The acquisition of Kwik Fit Insurance Services represented a major step in the continued development of Ageas UK’s multi-distribution strategy, adding 600,000 customers and 1.2 million policies as well as strong performing brands to the Retail portfolio.  As a result of the acquisition, Ageas is now the 4th largest Personal lines intermediary distributor in the UK. 

Other significant partnerships developed during 2010 included Toyota (GB) PLC and Aioi Motor & General and a deal with Tesco Bank to provide travel insurance to around 170,000 Tesco Travel customers.  RIAS continues to make significant progress in the over 50s market with a strong brand presence and the development of innovative products. 

Profit Before Tax for the Other Insurance Activities including the Retail businesses was GBP 17.6 million in the year to 31 December (2009: GBP 18.0 million).  The result includes the one-off acquisition costs of Kwik Fit Insurance Services (GBP 4.3 million).  The like for like comparison for the RIAS and UKAIS Retail businesses with the same period last year, shows an increase in Profit Before Tax of 3.5% on the strength of commission income growth.

Rebrand and Awards:

The new Ageas UK brand was successfully launched into the market during 2010 with strong and positive feedback from brokers, clients, partners and suppliers.  The rebrand process has now been completed within the 2011 first quarter target date.

2010 was a very strong year in terms of awards and accolades presented across Ageas UK companies.  18 awards were won in total reinforcing continued high performance in customer service, claims, product and technological innovation.  Accolades received included Excellence in Customer Service (ifs Financial World Innovation Awards), Insurance Company of the Year (Bodyshop Awards), Motor Insurer of the Year (ABP Repairers Award), Customer Care, Claims Initiative, Use of Technology and Personal Lines Broker of the Year (British Insurance Awards), Best Underwriting Team and E-commerce Provider (LifeSearch Protection Awards), Young Broker of the Year, Investment in People and Marketing Initiative of the Year (UK Broker Awards).  The awards reflect continued strong positive advocacy for Ageas across brokers, clients, partners and suppliers.