Belfast Telegraph

Hiscox boosted by weak pound but insurer warns over 'difficult trading'

Insurer Hiscox has said the Brexit-hit pound helped bolster its third-quarter performance, but warned that margins were "evaporating" in some parts of the London market.

The firm said gross written premiums rose by a fifth to £1.858 billion in the nine months to the end of September, up from £1.536 billion over the period last year.

Chief executive Bronek Masojada said that despite Hiscox London Market growing 9% to £520.2 million over the period, it was still grappling with "difficult trading conditions".

"It has been a good quarter for the group, albeit flattered by foreign exchange gains.

"Our retail businesses continue to grow well, benefiting from long-term investment in infrastructure and brand.

"However, margins are evaporating in some areas of the London market, and we are adjusting our underwriting accordingly."

The firm said it was looking at "creative ways" to tackle the soft London market and cutting back in areas where rates are facing severe pressure. It said it expects the London market to "shrink materially" next year.

However, the specialist insurer said its US arm grew by a 33% to 400.9 million US dollars (£323 million) in the nine months to the end of September despite Hurricane Matthew battering the east coast of America in October.

The group set aside 35 million US dollars (£28 million) to cover the fallout from the storms and avoided "significant exposure" to Hurricane Hermine in September and the Louisiana floods.