Source - LSE Regulatory
RNS Number : 5377X
Hiscox Ltd
05 May 2021
 


Hiscox Ltd trading statement

Hamilton, Bermuda (5 May 2021) - Hiscox Ltd (LSE:HSX), the international specialist insurer, today issues its trading statement for the first three months of the year to 31 March 2021.

Highlights:

·      Group gross written premiums up 6.3% to $1,256.6 million, as strong growth in Hiscox London Market, Hiscox Europe and direct and partnerships business more than offset planned reductions in the US broker channel.

·      Good performance in Hiscox Retail with gross premiums up 8.6% (3.7% in constant currency) in a challenging operating environment.

Strong growth in direct and partnerships, with premiums up 22.1% (16.8% in constant currency) and the US growing gross premiums 30.1% to $109.2 million.

UK Retail remains resilient with premiums up 8.2% (1.8% in constant currency), reflecting strong renewals and growing customer numbers.

Excellent top-line performance in Hiscox Europe up 20.4% (10.1% in constant currency) led by Germany, Benelux and Iberia.

·      Hiscox London Market continues to perform well, benefitting from favourable rate momentum, with rates up 13% across the portfolio and premiums up 9.3%.

·      Hiscox Re & ILS achieved good rate growth at both the January and April renewals; net premiums grew 35.6% as we retained more risk.

·      Investment return of $20.7 million, or 1.1% on an annualised basis.

·      New leadership in Hiscox USA and Hiscox Europe.

·      $47 million net reserved for the North American winter storm Uri.   

·      Good progress on course correction actions across the Group with US broker portfolio repositioning on track.

·      No change to previously-disclosed estimates for claims related to Covid-19 in 2020 and 2021.

Bronek Masojada, Group Chief Executive Officer, commented:

 

"The year has got off to a good start as rates continue to strengthen in all areas. Our big-ticket businesses are benefitting from improved conditions and strong market positions. Our Retail businesses continue to benefit from the shift to digital trading."

 

Gross written premiums for the period:

 


Gross written premiums

to 31 March 2021

Gross written

premiums

to 31 March 2020*

Growth in USD

 

Growth in constant currency

 


US$m

US$m

%

%

Hiscox Retail

663.9

611.5

8.6%

3.7%

Hiscox London Market

303.9

278.1

9.3%

9.0%

Hiscox Re & ILS

288.8

292.2

(1.2%)

(1.4%)

Total

1,256.6

1,181.8

6.3%

3.7%

 

*2020 gross written premiums have been represented to reflect reclassification of the Special Risks division.

 

Rates

Rate momentum continues to be favourable across all Hiscox businesses. Hiscox London Market achieved a further aggregate rate increase across the portfolio of 13% year-on-year, building on the significant rate increases over the past three years.

Rate improvement has also continued in Hiscox Re & ILS, with an average increase of 10% across the portfolio. April reinsurance renewals, which are focused primarily on Japan, showed mid-to-high single digit rate rises. This builds on good rate momentum at the January renewals, where the business achieved double digit increases in risk, marine, retro and North American property. Rate increases are expected to moderate over the rest of the year, although winter storm Uri is likely to provide further support to pricing.

In Hiscox Retail, rates are increasing across all regions, with professional indemnity and cyber delivering the strongest growth. Hiscox UK has achieved an average 5% rate increase on the prior year. Hiscox Europe saw annual rate increase of 2%, with the strongest momentum in Ireland, France and Spain. Hiscox USA benefitted from a 5% increase on Q1 2020 driven predominantly by the broker channel, as pricing in the US excess and surplus lines market continues to harden

Claims

The first quarter of the year has seen a number of natural catastrophes and large man-made events. Based on an industry loss pick of $15 billion, Hiscox has reserved $47 million net for winter storm Uri. The majority of the exposure is in Hiscox Re & ILS with much smaller expected losses in Hiscox London Market and Hiscox USA. The Australian floods and the Ever Given marine loss are not expected to be material events for the Group.

Overall, Hiscox London Market has had a good start to the year with limited large loss activity and claims below prior year. 

Setting aside the previously reported impact of Covid-19, Hiscox Retail has had a more normal claims experience. Both the UK and European businesses have experienced claims frequency below expectations, partly offset by a continued rise in US cyber claims.

We have seen a continued uptick in ransomware claims across the Group. In response, we are taking proactive measures to reduce exposure, refocusing new business on customers with smaller revenues and driving through risk appropriate pricing.

Covid-19 claims and potential exposure

There is no change to the Group's previously disclosed estimates for claims related to Covid-19 in 2020, which total $475 million net of reinsurance. Hiscox UK's exposure to potential business interruption claims has been running off at approximately 8% per month since June 2020. Residual exposure is expected to be largely run-off by the end of June 2021. As previously disclosed, the Group estimates exposure to restrictions already announced in 2021 to the end of June, to be less than $40 million.

In January, the Judgment handed down by the Supreme Court of England and Wales largely confirmed the outcome of the High Court's earlier ruling in respect of Hiscox UK policyholders that, except in rare circumstances, business interruption cover was restricted to customers whose businesses were mandatorily closed.

We have been working with customers and brokers in the UK to pay claims in line with the Judgment as quickly as possible. Business interruption claims require detailed analysis of financial data for each policyholder from experienced loss adjusters, accountants and claims professionals in order to calculate an accurate claims settlement, and that process is well underway.

Since the Judgment was handed down, all customers with valid claims have been contacted and the complex process of assessing and paying those claims remains a priority for the Group.

Investments

The investment return for the first quarter was $20.7 million (2020: -$78.9 million), or 1.1% on an annualised basis (2020: -1.2%). Assets under management at 31 March 2021 were $7.7 billion (2020: $6.8 billion).

Governments have continued to extend stimulus in response to the pandemic, most notably the recent US $1.9 trillion support package. This, combined with early success in the US and UK vaccination roll-out, has bolstered global equity markets. The expected normalisation of trade and the utilisation of built up cash balances by both corporations and consumers has led to growth forecasts for the remainder of 2021 and for the next few years being higher than seen in recent years. The expected economic recovery, government stimulus and disruption in various supply chains, has now led markets to focus on inflationary risks. Whilst sentiment remains optimistic, markets need to see more evidence that the vaccine roll-out will be successful and lead to the reopening of economies. Delays could unsettle markets and result in further volatility.  

The more positive market outlook has pushed longer bond yields materially higher, although at shorter maturities - where we invest - only slight upwards movement has been seen. This shift has held back returns on our bond portfolios to some extent, while some of our diversifying exposures have contributed favourably.  

The current yield to maturity on the bond portfolio has increased marginally to 0.5%, from 0.4% at the end of 2020. Hiscox is comfortable maintaining its credit exposure given the supportive economic and policy backdrop. The Group maintains modest exposure to selected risk assets and increases in volatility could provide opportunities, but otherwise we continue to look to incrementally improve long-term risk and capital adjusted outcomes through further diversification.

Hiscox Retail

Hiscox Retail delivered a good performance during the first quarter. Gross written premiums grew by 8.6% to $663.9 million (2020: $611.5 million), or 3.7% in constant currency. This is a strong result delivered in a challenging operating environment as government restrictions remained in the UK and across the European region throughout the quarter, in contrast to the comparable period in 2020 which was mainly unaffected by the pandemic.  

With a focus on small, micro and nano businesses, our direct and partnerships operations grew gross premiums by 22.1% during the period, or 16.8% in constant currency. Top line growth is particularly strong in the US at 30.1%, driven both by the boom in new business formation and by the Group's multi-year investments in technology and marketing.

Gross written premiums for the period:


Gross written premiums

to 31 March 2021

Gross written

premiums

to 31 March 2020*

 

Growth in USD

 

Growth in constant currency

 


£m/€m

US$m

£m/€m

US$m

%

%

Hiscox Retail

 

-   Hiscox UK

 

-   Hiscox Europe

 

 

 

143.3

 

179.0

 

 

196.6

 

217.3

 

 

140.8

 

162.7

 

 

181.7

 

180.5

 

 

 

8.2%

 

20.4%

 

 

 

1.8%

 

10.1%

-   Hiscox USA

 

-   Hiscox Asia


237.8

 

12.2


237.5

 

11.8

0.1%

 

3.2%

 

 

2.1%

Hiscox Retail total


663.9


611.5

8.6%

3.7%

 

*2020 gross written premiums have been represented to reflect reclassification of the Special Risks division.

Hiscox UK

Hiscox UK premiums grew 8.2% to $196.6 million (2020: $181.7 million) or 1.8% on a constant currency basis. Better than expected renewals more than offset some headwinds in new business generation due to the effects of Covid-19. Reduced activity in events, entertainment and hospitality, which are most affected by the general national measures taken in response to the pandemic, had a 2.4% adverse impact on Hiscox UK's growth in the quarter.  Net customer numbers increased.

The UK direct and partnerships business grew premiums on the prior year, with a good performance in both commercial and personal lines.

Hiscox Europe

Hiscox Europe delivered another excellent top line performance in the first quarter, growing gross written premiums by 20.4% to $217.3 million (2020: $180.5 million), or 10.1% on a constant currency basis. This is ahead of the average rate increase of 2% and led by strong double digit growth in Germany, Benelux and Iberia. The business is benefitting from good retention, which is a positive sign of the economic resilience of our small commercial policyholders in the region and strong double digit new business growth in France and Benelux. 

Hiscox Germany, our largest market in Europe, grew gross premiums 25.9%, or 14.9% in constant currency, with strong performance in both personal and commercial lines. Hiscox France has returned to growth, while continuing course corrective actions and investing in our direct-to-consumer offering for small businesses. Hiscox Benelux grew premiums by 30.7%, or 19.6% in constant currency, with double digit growth both in Belgium and the Netherlands. Iberia also had a strong start to the year, driven primarily by broker channel performance in professions and specialty commercial lines and further progress in developing distribution relationships with banks, mutuals, insurtech and technology companies.   

In line with Group appetite, we are taking proactive portfolio actions in cyber across all countries, refocusing new business on customers with smaller revenues and driving through risk appropriate pricing.

On 9th April the Group announced that Robert Dietrich, previously CEO of Hiscox Germany, has been appointed CEO of Hiscox Europe, succeeding Stephane Flaquet who was appointed to the new role of Chief Transformation Officer for the Group earlier this year. Robert has been with Hiscox for 24 years in a variety of underwriting roles across the business, before being appointed as Managing Director of Hiscox Germany in 2006, and as such has a deep understanding of our European operations and the opportunities for Hiscox that exist in these markets.  

Hiscox USA

In Hiscox USA, gross written premiums are in line with the prior year period at $237.8 million (2020: $237.5 million), as planned reductions in broker lines to reshape the business were offset by growth elsewhere.

Our US direct and partnerships business delivered an excellent performance, with top line growth accelerating as gross premiums increased 30.1% to $109.2 million, with new business and renewals both ahead of expectations. This channel is benefitting from a rebound in the US economy and an increased demand for digital solutions which has been accelerated by the pandemic. The business is continuing to grow scale with 460,000 customers now insured. The implementation of a new digital technology platform, key to delivering long-term efficiency and scale benefits, is progressing well and will be completed by the end of the year. We have successfully launched a new Business Owner's Policy (BOP) on the platform, increasing the footprint of our offering to small businesses and enhancing the lifetime value of a customer.

As we set out in our 2020 full year results, our target customers in the US are businesses with revenues under $100 million, with those under $25 million being the focus. In line with this strategy we are exiting large cyber and stand-alone general liability business in the broker channel and other business which does not fit within our strategic appetite either in terms of size or product area. As a result, gross premiums in the broker channel reduced, in line with expectations.

In April the Group announced the appointment of Kevin Kerridge as CEO of Hiscox USA. Kevin succeeds Steve Langan who will return to the UK as Group Marketing Director focusing on brand management, until he retires at the end of the year. Kevin, the architect of our digital strategy in the UK and the USA, has had a career at Hiscox spanning 25 years. In 2001, he launched the Group's flagship direct-to-consumer business in the UK and he has been at the helm of the US direct and partnerships business since its inception in 2010. He is incredibly passionate about the small business opportunity for Hiscox in the US and his appointment to lead Hiscox USA is a testament to the Group's strategic aspiration to be America's #1 small business insurer. The Group would like to thank Steve Langan for his exceptional leadership and delivery as CEO of Hiscox USA, and will benefit once again from his experience in the UK during the remainder of the year.

Hiscox Asia

Our business in Asia, DirectAsia, grew gross premiums 3.2% to $12.2 million in a tough competitive environment (2020: $11.8 million) and an absence of travel insurance. Renewals remain strong across the region, and the partnership business in Thailand continues to develop well.

Hiscox London Market

Hiscox London Market continued to perform well, growing gross written premiums by 9.3% to $303.9 million (2020: $278.1 million) helped by double digit rate growth in 11 out of 17 lines. The most significant rate increases were achieved in casualty lines such as US public company D&O, US general liability and cyber, all of which grew in excess of 20%.

We are making good progress on e-trading across multiple business lines. In the first quarter we priced over 90% of our flood premiums through the Hiscox FloodPlus platform, processing an average of 12,000 quotes per week, up 50% year-on-year, reaching a record high of 17,000 per week in March. The recently launched BindPlus Commercial, a market leading electronic rating platform for commercial lines, is now being integrated with two coverholders.

The attritional loss performance is improving as past course correction continues to take effect.

Hiscox Re & ILS

In Hiscox Re & ILS, gross written premiums decreased by 1.2% to $288.8 million (2020: $292.2 million), as underwriting discipline and a reduction in third party capital deployed continued to impact the top line. Excluding reinstatement premiums, mainly as a result of the winter storm Uri, premiums are down by 13.5%.

Net written premiums grew by 35.6% as we retained more risk on the balance sheet to take advantage of the favourable rate environment and changed the mix of quota share and excess of loss reinsurance. The business increased its net exposure to North America catastrophe and retrocession business, where rates grew by 10% and 11% respectively.

Risk and pro-rata books have been successfully restructured in the renewals. In line with our strategy of reducing the volatility on selected prior year portfolios, the Group has also agreed the purchase of adverse development cover in respect of its run-off healthcare book, transferring loss reserves and claims handling to a highly rated third party reinsurer.  

Dividend and capital management

The Group remains committed to prudent capital management in the face of on-going economic uncertainty.

After a strong start to the year, the Group remains well capitalised on both a regulatory and ratings basis, with liquidity to pay claims and execute its growth strategy in favourable market conditions.

The Board believes that paying a dividend is a priority in 2021 and will evaluate the position ahead of the interim results.

ENDS

Inside information

This announcement contains inside information.

 

The person responsible for arranging and authorising the release of this announcement on behalf of the Company is Marc Wetherhill, Group Company Secretary and General Counsel.

 

For further information

Investors and analysts

Yana O'Sullivan, Group Head of Investor Relations, London +44 (0)20 3321 5598

Marc Wetherhill, Group Company Secretary, Bermuda +1 441 278 8300

 

Media

Kylie O'Connor, Director of Communications, London +44 (0)20 7448 6656

Tom Burns, Brunswick +44 (0)20 7404 5959

Simone Selzer, Brunswick +44 (0)20 7404 5959

Notes to editors

 

About The Hiscox Group

Hiscox is a global specialist insurer, headquartered in Bermuda and listed on the London Stock Exchange (LSE:HSX). Our ambition is to be a respected specialist insurer with a diverse portfolio by product and geography. We believe that building balance between catastrophe-exposed business and less volatile local specialty business gives us opportunities for profitable growth throughout the insurance cycle. 

The Hiscox Group employs over 3,000 people in 14 countries, and has customers worldwide. Through the retail businesses in the UK, Europe, Asia and the USA, we offer a range of specialist insurance for professionals and business customers as well as homeowners. Internationally traded, bigger ticket business and reinsurance is underwritten through Hiscox London Market and Hiscox Re & ILS.

Our values define our business, with a focus on people, courage, ownership and integrity. We pride ourselves on being true to our word and our award-winning claims service is testament to that. For more information, visit www.hiscoxgroup.com.

 

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