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Zurich UK 2019 Full Results

13 February 2020

Zurich UK reports strong full-year results: 59% rise in profits and growth in premiums


Zurich UK today announces its full-year results for the period ended December 2019, making a strong contribution to the Zurich Group results announced earlier today.

Zurich UK

  • Earnings up 59% to £413 million from £260 million in 2018
  • Combined Ratio (CR) improves to 91% from 94.9% in 2018
  • General Insurance Gross Written Premium (GWP) increases 4% to £2,480 million from £2,386 million in 2018
  • Life and Savings Protection Annual Premium Equivalent (APE) increases to £114.9 million, a 25% increase on the prior year

General Insurance

  • Business Operating Profit (BOP) of £271 million, an increase of 97% from the £137 million reported for 2018
  • Gross Written Premium (GWP) is up 4% to £2,480 million from £2,386 million in 2018
  • Combined Ratio (CR) of 91%, a 3.9 percentage point (ppt) improvement over 94.9% in 2018

Life & Savings

  • Business Operating Profit of £142 million is 15% ahead of the £123 million reported for 2018
  • Retail protection APE increased by 17%
  • Life and Savings Protection New Business Value (NBV) increased to £42.2 million, a 46% increase on the prior year

Commenting on the UK results, Zurich’s UK CEO Tulsi Naidu, said: “Zurich UK has delivered an excellent performance in 2019, contributing strongly to Zurich’s overall global results. Earnings have increased by 59% to £413 million, with a doubling of operating profits in General Insurance and robust growth in Life and Savings. This strong performance has been driven by our strategic repositioning in the UK. Over the last three years, we have simplified the business, and enhanced our products, technical capability and customer service. We are now a stronger, more focused and customer-centric business, and this is paying off with improvement across all our key financial and strategic measures.

“I am very proud that we have achieved this shift in performance by creating a progressive and inclusive workplace, and being engaged with the communities we operate in. Today, we look forward to the future with confidence. We have a clear strategy, are committed to our customers, distributors and the communities we operate in, and will continue to build Zurich’s business in the UK.”

General Insurance

General Insurance results showed strong progress with profits increasing 97% to £271 million and the combined ratio improving to 91%, reflecting actions the Company has taken to strengthen underwriting discipline, capacity management and portfolio quality. Gross Written Premium increased 4% to £2,480 million, supported by growth in new business and retention.

Zurich UK’s market-leading commercial franchise performed strongly in 2019, with increased capability in Specialty lines of business complementing the Company’s traditional strengths in property and casualty underwriting. Zurich UK secured a license to write USA ‘surplus lines’ business in London from 1 January 2020 and launched Zurich Online, an Acturis-based SME platform for brokers.

The Company continued to enhance its claims proposition, introducing new digital portals for motor and property claims and expanding the use of fast-track claims to speed-up payments for customers. This approach has been coupled with leading-edge technology for detecting bogus claims involving identity manipulation and fraud rings, helping the Company to both pay valid claims faster, while also maintaining tight controls against fraud.

Zurich UK is also developing innovative new ‘preventative’ digital solutions to help customers manage their risks. In 2019, it began piloting leak detection devices with Housing Associations and continued to roll out the successful child safeguarding app, Safer Schools, which is now live in 4,200 schools.

Commenting on the General Insurance results, Tulsi Naidu, said: “This result is a product of the improvements we have made across every aspect of our General Insurance business over the last few years – combining a real emphasis on technical excellence with improvements in customer service, simplified processes and digital capabilities.

“We have made it quicker and easier for customers to claim, and now pay a third of lower value claims on first contact, while motor and property customers can notify us of a loss any time, night or day. Above all, we provided crucial resilience to our customers, paying out £1.5 billion in general insurance claims.

“Looking forward, we are clear there is more we can do to drive performance, and we are focused on this. Customer service and technical discipline will remain key priorities during 2020.”

Life & Savings

Life & Savings (L&S) profits grew 15%, supported by the continued success of the retail protection proposition. Life and Savings Protection APE rose to £114.9 million, an increase of 25% on the prior year, with retail protection posting a 17% increase in APE. It was pleasing to see the Corporate Risk business contribute to the strong L&S result. Group life protection delivered a 9% increase customers, and now protects 1.7 million UK workers through its expanding range of flexible products. Group income protection also achieved an 11% customer increase, and remains a leader in helping businesses to manage employee health and wellbeing.

Commenting on the Life & Savings results, Tulsi Naidu said: “Our Life & Savings results are solid and have been driven by the continued success of the retail protection proposition, which has transformed our standing in the sector. Our products – which allow customers to adapt their benefits and cover at different life stages, and which reflect the range of complex, real world situations people now face – have fuelled a 17% rise in retail protection sales. As a result, we welcomed 100,000 new retail protection customers on our platform. Going forward, we will continue to make it easy for advisers and customers to do business with us. We will also focus on sustaining our outstanding claims record, which shows how we are there for people at what is often the most difficult time in their life.”

People and communities

In 2019, Zurich UK took a number of important steps to support Zurich Group’s commitment to be among the most responsible and impactful businesses in the world. We began advertising all jobs as capable of part-time, job share and “flex” work, resulting in an immediate 25% rise in female applications. The Company also launched a new suite of ‘family friendly’ people policies, including 16 weeks equalised parental leave for all parents, and support for carers and those going through IVF and bereavement.

We supported over 500 charities in the UK in 2019 with over 4,000 days of volunteering in the community by Zurich employees and committed nearly £2m in funds; delivered our Youth Skills Programme to over 2,300 school pupils, having now reached more than 4,900 students since 2016; every building where we control the account is now powered by green electricity; we are on track to remove single use plastic in the UK business by the end of 2020; and we planted more than 20,000 trees in 2019 to support reforestation and decarbonisation.