Sabre Insurance Group has revealed that pre-tax profit fell from £56.5m to £49.1m in the full-year ended 31 December 2020, as profits were “heavily disrupted” by the pandemic, which reportedly “extended the challenging stage” of the car insurance market cycle.
The group called its financial performance “robust” and “resilient”, despite the fact that gross written premiums fell from £197m in 2019 to £173.2m in 2020.
While its gross written premiums were hit by recurring lockdowns, the impact of subsequent restrictions was “significantly lower” than the initial lockdown, according to the group.
Nonetheless, the group had taken a “disciplined” approach to pricing throughout the period, with rate increases in excess of 10% during the year. In addition, its combined operating ratio for the year was 75.3%, in-line with its long-term target.
Looking ahead, the group said its “focused and disciplined” approach in 2020, and adherence to its long-term strategy, leaves the business “well positioned to take advantage of anticipated growth opportunities as competitors unwind unsustainable Covid-19 related price discounts, as claims frequency benefits recede and regulatory developments take effect”.
Geoff Carter, CEO of Sabre, said: “The impact of Covid-19 has been well publicised and I’m proud of how Sabre has performed through the pandemic. The strength and simplicity of our business model means we have been able to support all of our stakeholders.
“We have maintained strong dividend flows to our shareholders, retained all staff on full salaries, and continued to award pay raises. We supported customers by relaxation of certain policy conditions and focused temporary price discounts to reflect likely claims savings.”
He added: “At the same time, throughout this disruption, we have remained resolutely focused on our long-term strategy of prioritising underwriting profitability over premium volume. This has delivered a strong level of profitability and allows us to provide our investors with another attractive proposed dividend payment of 11.7p per share.
“Having maintained our business’s fundamental strengths and focus during this period we believe we are now well positioned to take advantage of anticipated growth opportunities without undermining our margin targets.”