FBD Insurance posted a loss of €4.4m in its core insurance underwriting business for 2020, as a result of the recent High Court ruling, which stated that the insurer must pay out business interruption claims made by publicans after the COVID-19 restrictions forced the closure of their premises.
Announcing full year results for 2020 on Friday morning, FBD said it expects the net cost of paying out all business interruption claims made by Irish publicans to be in the region of €65m.
Despite the reported underwriting loss, FBD’s full year results for 2020 are much better than expected. Market analysts had forecast underwriting losses to be as high as €14m.
Overall, FBD said it sold €358m worth of insurance policies in 2020, which was down 3% on the previous year but includes the payment of €12m in rebates to customers to reflect reduced activity due to COVID-19.
FBD said average insurance premiums were down 3% in 2020, as lower premiums for motor (-6%), farm (-2%) and house insurance (-2%) more than offset an increase in commercial insurance (-3%) costs.
When returns from investments of €10.4m are included, FBD posted a pre-tax profit of €4.8m for its 2020 financial year. FBD’s reported solvency at the end of 2020, which is a key requirement for insurance companies, stood at 197%.
This time last year, FBD committed to hold a solvency capital ratio of at least 150% with the Central Bank of Ireland.
Despite the better than expected performance, FBD is taking a cautious approach to 2021, given the continuing uncertainty due to COVID-19, and has said it will not be paying a dividend to shareholders for its 2020 financial year.
Last year, the group also held back on paying its 2019 dividend to shareholders, which amounted to €35m.
Newly appointed FBD chief executive Tómas Ó’Mídheach said 2020 was an extraordinarily challenging year for FBD Insurance, yet the group had recorded a resilient performance.
“All businesses faced extraordinary challenges in 2020 and, as we navigate towards a “new normal”, we can reflect on a resilient performance over a uniquely challenging year for FBD. The challenges were highlighted by the recent judgement from the Commercial Court, in respect of business interruption claims for Public House policies,” said Ó’Mídheach.
“The team at FBD remains determined to meet our customer obligations and we have commenced paying interim payments for all valid claims and will endeavour to settle claims as quickly as possible. We are considering the impact of this judgement with our reinsurance partners and are confident about a satisfactory outcome,” he added.