Car and home insurer Hastings (HSTG) continues to steal business from its larger rivals by targeting consumers' annual hunt for a better deal. The insurer, which joined the main market in October last year, had 2.2 million live policies at the end of June. This was a 17% rise in 12 months and means that customer numbers have doubled in four years.

‘We are built for the way that customers now buy general insurance,’ chief executive Gary Hoffman tells Shares. This means a focus on attracting business through digital and mobile channels, especially price comparison websites.

Web - Hastings - 11 August 2016

At the heart of this strategy is responding quickly to what is going on in the market. This saw the group alter its prices on average about 49 times a month in 2015. This has helped Hastings to write 28% more premiums at £360.6 million in the 12 months to 30 June, generating 29% more cash to £49.1 million.

For Hoffman insurance bought online is a growing market. He claims that 67% of UK consumers buy car insurance through comparison websites, double what it was ‘four or five years ago’. Hastings is focused on winning more business from this market.

The vote to leave the European Union and the slowdown it might cause in the UK is unlikely to take the edge off this. He has seen no slowdown since 23 June’s referendum. People have to buy insurance if they have a car and that will not change.

Shares jumped almost 4% to 214p after its prelims were posted before falling back to 2.5% at 211.4p.

Issue Date: 11 Aug 2016