November has seen the insurance industry opening its books to reveal third quarter results and mixed fortunes for some companies. Admiral's nine month report resulted in a share price crash for the FTSE 100-listed company, but not before a shock bankruptcy decision across the Irish Sea stole a few more headlines.
Amidst a Q3 results season in which insurers were buoyed by motor insurance rate rises, the news that Sean Quinn, whose family built the Quinn Group into one of Ireland's most powerful companies had declared himself personally bankrupt, stole the headlines.
For the best part of a decade, the Quinn Group and its UK insurance arm Quinn Direct had been one of the fastest growing in the market. Quinn Direct was fabled for its tactic of undercutting competitors in difficult markets such as those covering drivers aged between 17-25, and its rumoured approach to claims settlement had become legendary. However this began to unravel in 2008 as the Irish banking crisis developed and by last week, the corporation's last insurance assets were finally transferred over to the acquiring business Liberty Mutual.
Meanwhile, third quarter results have made for mixed reading, with those exposed to the scrutiny of stock market analysts suffering the most. Admiral Insurance lost up to 26% of its value on the London Stock Exchange after a profit warning on 9th November indicated that the company's numbers would fail to meet analyst expectations. Allianz UK's 1% increase in operating profit for the first nine months of 2011 juxtaposed favourably with its parent company's 80% drop in income at a group level.
Ageas (formerly Fortis Insurance) continues to trade confidently, with a 16.8% rise in gross written premium for the first nine months of 2011, driven by its underwriting deal with supermarket giant, Tesco.
Elsewhere, in the insurance claims handling market Loss Adjuster Cunningham Lindsey announced that 3.6% of its 1956-strong workforce was at risk of redundancy in response to a 'market-wide reduction in claim numbers'.