Record first quarter for General Accident: Good weather helps insurer to 46% rise

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The Independent Online
GENERAL ACCIDENT has made its best start to a year with record first-quarter profits of pounds 60.4m, a 46 per cent increase on 1993.

Favourable weather in the UK supported the continuing improvement in results. The UK recorded an underwriting profit of pounds 30.3m, softening the impact of losses from the harsh winter in North America.

Severe weather cost General Accident's US arm pounds 11m more than the previous year, and its Canadian business pounds 16m.

The costs contributed to underwriting losses of pounds 43m and pounds 30.8m respectively. The group's total underwriting loss fell from pounds 77.1m to pounds 63.3m on higher premium income of pounds 1.07bn.

Nelson Robertson, chief executive, said results from the UK and the Pacific had improved dramatically.

One blackspot in the results was a 10 per cent fall in the insurer's solvency margin to 55.4 per cent. This was due to the recent weakness of the world's equity and bond markets.

Although General Accident's estate agencies lost another pounds 3.8m ( pounds 3.7m), Mr Robertson was 'hopeful' they would return to profit this year. Business was better in March and April, although Mr Robertson said the group had yet to see a big upturn.

In the UK, additional business from the Halifax and Northern Rock building societies enabled General Accident to increase its premium income from household insurance by 47 per cent to pounds 104.6m.

In life insurance, where General Accident has been growing rapidly on the back of generous payouts, profits increased from pounds 10.5m to pounds 12.1m.