Insurer Hastings Group announced a 22 per cent boost in adjusted operating profit to £105.1m in the six months to 30 June despite taking a hit from bad weather earlier this year.

It posted operating profit of £105.1m, up from £86.5m, although that did include £14.6m of prior year VAT recovery.

Read more: The insurer at centre of AA row has just shaken up its head honchos

It also increased its interim dividend by 10 per cent to 4.5p per share.

Chief executive Toby van der Meer said its successful reduction in debt meant it would have more cash to return to shareholders in the future.

“New cash generated by the business which in the past was reduced by the debt is now available for potential higher future distribution for shareholders over time which is a positive for all,” he said.

He said he was happy with the results which he said came despite a challenging market.

“The results are particularly pleasing given we are in an uncertain environment for insurance companies. Premiums are coming down we have had bad weather and there is rising fraud activity across the market,” he said.

Read more: Insurer Hastings says its debts are a lot lower than rivals such as the AA

Van der Meer said the business was investing heavily in rooting out fraudsters.

“We have seen a big increase in fraud,” he said. “We have seen a big rise in ghost broking and we have closed down 33 different fraud rings so far this year just in UK motor insurance,” he said.

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