Hiscox ready for Brexit as profit triples despite natural disasters

Hiscox beat forecasts to triple profits last year despite a string of natural disasters, as the insurance giant insisted it is ready for Brexit.

Profit before tax was 137.4 million US dollars (£105 million), coming in around 7% higher than company-compiled consensus.

Gross premiums written grew by 15% to 3.78 billion dollars (£2.89 billion).

The FTSE 100 company said its strategy of balancing steady retail income with big-ticket insurance had paid off, helping it to deal with events such as the California wildfires and several hurricanes, typhoons and storms.

Hiscox Retail generated 55% of the group’s gross premiums, with a 13.7% increase to 2.08 billion dollars (£1.59 billion).

But Hiscox said its standout performer was the London Market division, which returned to growth and profit after three years of disciplined cycle management.

It delivered profit of 78.2 million dollars (£59.7 million) compared with a loss in the previous year of 46.7 million dollars (£35.68 million).

The company was bullish on the UK’s impending exit from the European Union.

Chief executive Bronek Masojada said: “Our business is ready for Brexit, even if British politicians are not. We have always said that, for Hiscox, Brexit is structural not strategic.

“We have built a profitable business in mainland Europe and Ireland over the past 25 years, which serves over 200,000 customers and employs 420 staff.

“We have put in place the structures needed to continue to serve these customers, as well as those of our customers from elsewhere in the world who have assets or exposures in these territories.”

Analysts at Shore Capital said the outlook for the current financial year was good.

“As we have seen with Hiscox’s peers, 2018 was a challenging year but 2019 and beyond look more positive, assuming there are not the same level of global catastrophe events seen over the last two years,” they said.