Highway optimistic despite fall

Highway has reported a fall in profit before tax to £19.1m from £27.3m last year, although the insur...

Highway has reported a fall in profit before tax to £19.1m from £27.3m last year, although the insurer remained optimistic that it would see increased returns in 2007.

Gross written premiums fell to £241.3m from £253.7m last year, while the company operating ratio rose to 98.9% compared with 96.4% in 2005. The motor insurer said that despite tough market conditions last year, it was looking to increase the amount of business handed over to its insurance company by its retail broking division.

Highway achieved revenues of £24.6m for the year, up from £16.5m in 2005, which reflected a 20% organic policy growth in Highway Retail Division.

Chris Hill, managing director at Highway Insurance, said he was confident that the retail business had the potential to make a substantial contribution to the group.

He said: "Although we have not seen profit come through in the order that we would have liked, the organisation is sound. We now have more than 200,000 customers, which is in line with our growth targets."

The insurer conducted a household pilot last year, and will be pursuing this in 2007. "The motoring market has been depressed in the past two to three years, which was not the best time to go into new products," Mr Hill said.

He added: "We have been looking into other products that would add to our distribution channels. However, we are, first and foremost, a motor business, and there are plenty of opportunities for growth, as the market looks set to improve."

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