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Lower costs drive Ansvar profits

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Ansvar Australia recorded a significant increase in profit last year thanks to lower operating expenses and strong investments, according to CEO Warren Hutcheon.

The faith-based insurer’s UK parent, Ecclesiastical Insurance Office, says Ansvar lifted its underwriting loss from £4.2 million ($7.96 million) the previous year to £1.1 million ($2.08 million).

Mr Hutcheon says investments pushed Ansvar to a £3.84 million ($7.3 million) profit after tax, up from about £900,000 ($1.71 million) in 2013.

“This is our best profit result since 2008,” he told “The main drivers are new property reinsurance arrangements, reductions in operating expenses and a strong investment result.”

A new operating model took effect last September, better aligning the business with its specialist insurer strategy and the needs of broker partners.

Ansvar’s combined operating ratio was 106.2% last year, compared with 114.8% in 2013.

Gross written premium (GWP) fell 12% to £40.1 million ($76.07 million), mainly due to the weaker Australian dollar.

Ansvar says with currency movements removed GWP fell 2% to $73.5 million, largely because of lower fire services levies.

Ecclesiastical has reported an after-tax profit of £40.31 million ($76.48 million), down 35% on lower investment returns and higher claims for sexual and physical abuse. These resulted in the liability account remaining loss-making, despite a turnaround in underlying performance.

Underwriting profit was £9.2 million ($17.45 million), the best result for five years and “significantly” ahead of budget. It compares with a loss of £8.2 million ($15.72 million) in 2013.

The combined operating ratio improved to 95.9% from 102.9%. GWP was £328.6 million ($623.41 million), down 16.3%.

CEO Mark Hews says the improved underwriting profit came despite extensive storm and flood damage in the UK early last year, which cost £8 million ($15.17 million) in claims.