Insurer opts for niche markets

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INDEPENDENT Insurance, which floated last November, intends to tackle the increasing competition in motor insurance by concentrating further on specialist niches.

Michael Bright, Independent's chief executive, said he expected non-standard business - such as insuring imports and classic cars - to represent more than half the company's motor account by the end of the year.

Despite industry fears of a price war, Mr Bright said signs of increasing competition were not coming through in the non-standard market, which is less price-driven.

A pounds 2m underwriting profit on Independent's motor business gave it a pounds 6m profit on its personal account last year. A pounds 5.2m loss from its involvement in stop-loss insurance for Lloyd's members restricted the overall underwriting profit to pounds 2m, a pounds 9m turnaround from 1992.

Independent's first results as a quoted company show a jump in pre-tax profits from pounds 3.7m to pounds 15.8m. Premium income was up by 52 per cent to pounds 215.7m.

As forecast, Independent is paying a final dividend of 4.75p to give a total payout for the year of 8.25p a share (7p).