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Interim results for the six months ended 30 June 2021

A strong underwriting and investment result.

Key points

  • Gross written premiums of US$1,464.4m (H1 2020: US$1,282.5m), a 14.2% increase (11.7% at constant FX rates).
  • Risk adjusted premium rates increases of 10.2% (H1 2020: 8.2%), with increases since 1 January 2018 of 30.4%.
  • Net earned premium1 of US$883.3m (H1 2020: US$818.1m), an increase of 5.7% at constant FX rates.
  • Attritional ratio1,2 of 49.9%, an improvement of 2.1pps (H1 2020: 52.0%), with most classes showing a strong underlying performance.
  • Combined ratio1,2 of 94.6% (H1 2020: 106.7%), including 1.3pps of COVID-19 related losses (H1 2020: 7pps), 8.8pps of other major losses (H1 2020: 3.5pps) and reserve releases of (4.7)pps (H1 2020: (4.2)pps).
  • Operating profit before the impact of FX and tax of US$212.5m (H1 2020: loss of US$205.3m).
  • Profit after tax of US$204.3m (H1 2020: loss of US$227.4m).
  • RoNTA3 (non-annualised) of 15.5% (H1 2020: -16.4%). Total value created of US$216.9m (H1 2020: -US$227.3m).
  • Return on invested assets4 after fees of US$168.9m for H1 2021, representing a non-annualised return of 3.4% (H1 2020: -US$120.3m/-2.9%).
  • Balance sheet remains strong: Adjusted net tangible assets5 of US$1,654.3m (31 December 2020: US$1,436.8m).
  • Strong capital ratio6 of 148.5% (2020: 122.1%). Capital surplus increased by US$347.9m to US$688.9m (2020: US$341.0m)
  • Very successful first six months of trading for Ki.
  • Continued implementation of our strategy, including restructuring of our US operations and new product launches including the Keel Marine Consortium.

Read the full report

Matthew Wilson, Group Chief Executive Officer of Brit Limited, commented:

I am pleased to report a very positive first half of 2021 for Brit, with our underwriting performance and investment return delivering a strong overall result.  Underpinning this performance was our continued successful execution against our strategy of Leadership, Innovation and Distribution.   Against the ongoing backdrop of COVID-19, and the impact it continues to have on every aspect of life, the progression of our business is testament to the dedication of our people and the unique culture we have created at Brit.

2021 has continued to deliver strong risk adjusted rate increases with 10.2% achieved so far in 2021. Cumulative rate increases since 1 January 2018 now stand at 30.4%.  

Our strategy delivered a strong combined ratio for the period of 94.6%.  This reflected the combination of a healthy attritional ratio, robust prior year reserve releases and increased income from our third party capital management and MGA businesses, partly offset by the impact of the Texas winter storms and COVID-19 loss activity.  

I am also pleased that, alongside delivering a strong underwriting result, we were able to grow our premium written by 11.7% at constant exchange rates, to US$1,464.4m. We have continued to see growth in our core direct and reinsurance books, reflecting strong market conditions and targeted growth, partly offset by planned contractions across a number of less attractive classes. 

Embracing the potential of data and technology will be pivotal to Brit’s future success and Ki is the embodiment of this.   Its launch has been an important focus for us and it gained excellent traction in its first six months of trading, having received a very positive reception from its broking partners.  Working closely with those partners, Ki has continued to update and enhance its underwriting platform, which now has over 1,000 active users.  Ki has also developed and released its first broker API, which allows partner brokers to integrate seamlessly with Ki’s algorithm to obtain quotes within their own broking platform. This will further accelerate access to Ki’s capacity. 

During the period, we have combined our US operations to create a single operation under the Ambridge brand.   It will operate as a global MGA, managing over US$550m of premium in the US and internationally.  The rationale for bringing our businesses together was compelling, allowing an increased focus on underwriting profit and fee generation.  Our clients will benefit from the well recognised Ambridge MGA model giving them better access to products and enhanced service, and our underwriting teams will be better able to capitalise on business opportunities.

Our client service capabilities and delivering a best-in-class claims service is an important focus.  We have continued to support our clients when they need it most, with innovation at the heart of our Claims approach, including launching Brit Direct Pay, the first direct to bank card claims payment solution in the London Market. 

We continue to develop and launch new innovative products and expand our underwriting offering.  We launched the Keel Marine Consortium, to transform the writing of marine war and breach call risks.  We also continued to expand our e-trading portal, which provides a more efficient and convenient method of placing business.

During the first half we made a number of important appointments.  We welcomed Gavin Wilkinson as CFO, taking over from Mark Allan who is now focussed on his Ki CEO and Brit Executive Director roles.  We also appointed Wayne Page as our first Head of Inclusion and Diversity, who will act as custodian of Brit’s I&D vision and will work to deliver expert advice and guidance on I&D matters, while developing and implementing policies, practices and action plans.

Further progress has been made in developing our ESG strategy.  We are assessing our underwriting portfolio on an industry by industry basis and are undertaking work to build a framework across our Underwriting, Investments and Operations functions.  We are fully supportive of Lloyd’s ESG strategy.

Looking ahead to the remainder of 2021, uncertainty still surrounds COVID-19, including the short term impact from the easing of government restrictions, the longer term effectiveness of vaccination programmes and the economic consequences of the measures taken by governments.  Insurance markets also face other challenges such as the  potential of increased frequency and severity of major loss events and political and economic uncertainty.  However, strong compound rate rises, a continued improvement in our attritional claims ratio and our clear strategy gives us continued optimism and positions us well to respond to the opportunities and challenges ahead.

 

Gavin Wilkinson, Group Chief Financial Officer of Brit Limited, said:

After a challenging 2020, it is pleasing to report a strong first half result, reflecting the continued commitment of all our staff and the support of our shareholder, Fairfax. During the first half of 2021, Brit delivered a profit on ordinary activities before FX and tax of US$212.5m and a profit after tax of US$204.3m.  Our return on net tangible assets was 15.5% non-annualised. 

Underwriting contributed US$43.6m to the result, with a combined ratio of 94.6%. The attritional ratio for the period improved by 2.1pps to 49.9%, reflecting good underwriting discipline, rigorous risk selection, and healthy compound rate increases. 

Major losses of US$93.0m contributed 10.1pps to the combined ratio, comprising the Texas winter storms (US$81.5m) and COVID-19 related losses (US$11.5m).  It is pleasing to see the limited impact of COVID-19 related claims on our 2021 performance but wider uncertainty still remains.

We have maintained our long-standing track record of prior year reserve releases. As part of our quarterly reserving process, we released US$41.4m, the equivalent of a combined ratio reduction of 4.7pps.  These releases reflect increased certainty across a number of portfolios in both our direct and reinsurance books, together with overall net loss estimate reductions on the 2017 to 2020 catastrophe events and a small reduction in our 2020 COVID-19 related losses estimates.

Our investment return was an excellent US$168.9m (net of fees), providing a non-annualised return of 3.4%. This was driven by the strong performance across our main equity and fund portfolios as markets responded to additional stimulus measures and vaccine rollouts, and our cash and fixed income portfolio also generated positive returns.

We have continued to benefit from the growth of our third party capital vehicles and our investments in MGAs.  Working with our capital and distribution partners is an important part of Brit’s strategy, enhancing our leadership position, strengthening our client proposition and making our expense base more efficient.

In the period, we sold two subsidiaries, the Commonwealth Insurance Company of America and Scion Underwriting Services, realising a gain of US$22.0m.  Brit founded Scion, a US casualty MGA, in 2018 and it has grown to over US$80m of premium in three years.   Brit will continue to provide lead capacity to Scion and as such will retain a strong coverholder relationship with the team going forward.

Our balance sheet remains strong, with adjusted net tangible assets increasing to US$1,654.3m (31 December 2020: US$1,436.8m). As a result, we hold a surplus of US$688.9m or 48.5% over the Group’s management capital requirement. During the period, our capital requirements decreased from US$1,540.3m to US$1,419.4m, primarily reflecting movements in interest rates.

Our investment portfolio remains conservatively positioned, with a large allocation to cash and cash equivalents (US$1,007.3m or 19.7%) and fixed income securities (US$3,224.8m or 63.2%). Brit’s equity allocation stands at US$800.0m, or 15.7%. At 30 June 2021, 78.1% of our invested assets were investment grade and the duration of the portfolio was 1.6 years.

We have seen some positive market developments in the first half of 2021.  However, the world faces ongoing uncertainty, challenges arising from the pandemic, and the insurance market continues to evolve.  We believe that our strategy, discipline and financial strength position us well to take advantage of opportunities as they arise.

 

Notes

1    Excludes the effect of foreign exchange on non-monetary items. 

2    Excludes underwriting related amounts attributable to third party underwriting capital providers and non-controlling interests.  

3    RoNTA calculation excludes all FX movements.  Based on adjusted net tangible assets (footnote 5). 

4    Inclusive of return on investment related derivatives, return on associates and after deducting investment management expenses and third party share of investment return.       

5    Adjusted net tangible assets are defined as total equity, less intangible assets net of the deferred tax liability on those intangible assets. 

6    Excess of capital resources over management entity capital requirements, as a percentage of management entity capital requirements.

 

 

For further information, please contact:

 

Antony E Usher, Group Financial Controller, Brit Limited

+44 (0) 20 3857 0000

Edward Berry, FTI Consulting

+44 (0) 20 3727 1046

Tom Blackwell, FTI Consulting

+44 (0) 20 3727 1051