Shares windfall for Direct Line staff after bumper profits

Around 10,000 staff at insurance giant Direct Line Group will pick up £500 of free shares each after the group notched up a 53% hike in annual profits.

Direct Line - which owns brands including Churchill - announced the handout to staff as it also cheered investors with a 15p special dividend payout following a bumper £539 million profit haul for 2017 - up from £353 million in 2016.

The group said staff had now been awarded nearly £1,700 worth of free shares since it floated on the stock market in 2013.

Details of the payout come as the firm reported annual results showing its gross written premiums rose 3.6% to £3.4 billion.

The group said it grew in-force policies in its motor division by 3.8% to 4 million, while premiums rose 8.5% to £1.7 billion.

Direct Line's home insurance policies rose 2% to 1.8 million while premiums increased 1.2% to £409.7 million, although it said this was offset by ongoing declines in business with partners - where  policies declined by 10.2% and premiums declined by 9.4%.

Direct Line has been switching home insurance business from partner firms to price comparison websites.

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