Kiwi arm boosts Aussie insurer’s results

by Annette Whitfield 15 Aug 2014

Kiwi arm boosts Aussie insurer’s results

A focused strategy to increase market share, reduce expenses and streamline their customer service model are behind the positive result of Suncorp’s New Zealand general insurance business, says Vero CEO Gary Dransfield.

Suncorp Group, which consists of both Vero and AA Insurance in New Zealand, this week reported a net profit after tax (NPAT) of A$730 million for the full year ended 30 June 2014.

The New Zealand units contributed an insurance trading result of NZ$97 million (FY13: NZ$91 million) for the year.

Dransfield said: “Growth in our Gross Written Premium (GWP) of 6.9% was achieved in our direct and intermediated distribution channels, the majority of which can be attributed to our significant market share increase in personal insurance.

“New Zealand has experienced a particularly volatile period that included windstorms and floods in Canterbury, earthquakes in Central New Zealand and storms in Auckland.
 
“These events saw our loss ratio increase from 55.8 to 57.6% and resulted in our natural hazard costs coming in well above allowance.  
 
Dransfield added that the New Zealand result had also been impacted by an increase in claims costs for Christchurch.
 
“We've paid out NZ$3.6 billion – 75% of our total estimated costs. Our Christchurch recovery programme is progressing well and we anticipate resolving almost all claims by the end of 2014 with construction continuing through 2015.”

Dransfield said Vero was now in its final phase of the Christchurch recovery which would see an increased degree of certainty emerging over the final earthquake cost as their claims resolution continued to progress.

He outlined the company’s future goals: “We believe that our focus on value creation for our customers, partners and shareholders will ultimately drive growth across our business.
 
“Exceptional customer service and an innovative product and pricing framework are goals we continue to work towards.
 
“In FY15 we will continue to invest in a series of initiatives designed to boost our competitiveness through smarter risk assessment, streamlined operations, an improved claims experience and simplified, modern systems and processes,” said Dransfield.