Ecclesiastical Insurance Office plc announces results for the year ended 31 December 2020
Ecclesiastical Insurance Office plc (“Ecclesiastical”), the specialist financial services group, today announces its full year 2020 results.
- During an unprecedented year, the Group remained committed to its purpose of contributing to the greater good. In addition to over £23m of funds awarded through our parent Allchurches Trust, the Group gave over £2.7m to support charities and communities during this difficult time. This included £1m through our annual corporate giving programme Movement for Good, and over £200,000 to a combination of the industry's Covid-19 Support Fund, The National Emergency Trust and the Disaster Emergency Committee's Coronavirus Crisis Appeal.
- The Group has now given over £99m to charity, and we are about to meet the £100m target we set ourselves back in 2016. This means that over the last five years our rolling average donations have exceeded £20m per annum.
- Following a strong financial performance in 2019, we reported a loss before tax of £15.7m (2019: profit before tax £73.3m) principally due to Covid-19’s impact on financial markets.
- Gross Written Premiums (GWP) grew 11% to £437m (2019: £394m), supported by strong retention and rate increases as well as new business wins.
- Underwriting profit of £12.1m (2019: £20.0m) after £18.7m for Covid-19 related claims where there is confirmed cover, demonstrating continued progress in our underlying performance.
- We have prioritised the health and wellbeing of our people, successfully adapting to new ways of working and providing a seamless service to our customers.
- Continued external recognition of the Group as a trusted and specialist financial services organisation. This included being named as the UK’s most trusted home insurer for the 12th time by independent ratings agency Fairer Finance, and our Canadian team was once again awarded Top Employer for Young People.
- With a new brand, new offices and new systems, and a hardening market, we are well placed to grow in all our specialisms, particularly heritage, charity, education, real estate and private clients. At a time when others are pulling back, Ecclesiastical is very much open for business.
Mark Hews, Group Chief Executive Officer of Ecclesiastical, said:
“2020 was a uniquely challenging year for all of us. While we entered the year in a position of strength, the Covid-19 pandemic had a significant impact on the global economy and our financial performance suffered like many businesses. Despite this, we remained true to our purpose of contributing to the greater good and have continued to give to church, charities and communities most in need.
“We remain financially resilient despite the headline loss before tax of £15.7m (2019: profit before tax £73.3m), which was principally due to investment losses experienced in the first half of 2020. Given our financial strength, we hold a sizeable equity portfolio and accept that this can lead to short-term volatility in our reported results. We have since seen steady gains and we continue to take a long-term view with our investment strategy.
“Despite the challenging environment, our underlying performance continued to be robust. Gross Written Premiums (GWP) grew 11% to £437m (2019: £394m), supported by strong retention as well as new business wins, and we reported a solid underwriting profit of £12.1m (2019: £20.0m) after £18.7m for Covid-19 related claims where there is confirmed cover.
“The real measure of our performance in 2020, however, has been how we responded to support our customers, brokers, people and communities. I am immensely proud of the way our colleagues showed great courage and resilience to continue to deliver for our customers. All our colleagues quickly and successfully moved to remote working and we adapted our plans to enable our response to the pandemic, showing flexibility and agility across our businesses. Throughout the pandemic, we have made the health, safety and wellbeing of our employees a key priority.
“I also recognise that this has been a challenging time for many of our customers. Many businesses, charities, schools, nurseries and churches have suffered financially due to the impact of successive lockdowns. We introduced a series of measures to support our customers and partners during this difficult period. These included paying claims quickly where cover was in place, offering enhanced cover, free of charge, to many of our customers, and providing credit support to customers in financial difficulty. We also introduced online information hubs, as well as pandemic-related risk management advice.
“Some customers have been disappointed that their policy has not provided business interruption (BI) cover during the pandemic. We were always clear that our BI policies were never intended to cover pandemics and we welcomed the certainty and clarity provided by the outcome of the Financial Conduct Authority test case in our favour.
“Recognising the impact Covid-19 has had on communities, we continued our programme of giving during this difficult time. This includes £1m through our annual corporate giving programme Movement for Good awards and a further £120,000 through our 12 days of giving campaign. We also gave over £200,000 to a combination of the industry's Covid-19 Support Fund, The National Emergency Trust and the Disaster Emergency Committee's Coronavirus Crisis Appeal. The Group has now given over £99m to charity, and we are about to meet the £100m target we set ourselves back in 2016. This means that over the last five years our rolling average donations have exceeded £20m per annum.
“As we move into 2021, we are entering an exciting phase in our history. While many businesses retreat in the face of the coronavirus pandemic, we see the opportunity to refocus and re-energise our business based on our core strengths – our charitable purpose, our outstanding people and our passion to do the right thing. We recently unveiled a new visual identity for the Ecclesiastical Insurance brand. It represents everything that our audiences know and love about our organisation - our expertise, our ethics, and our unique purpose - but articulated with greater energy than before. It reflects an Ecclesiastical that not only does good, but is unified, dynamic and innovative. Alongside the investment in our new visual identity, I’m delighted that our new head office in Gloucestershire is now fully operational and ready to welcome employees with new flexible ways of working once lockdown restrictions are lifted. We are also continuing to invest in new systems to improve our efficiency and improve the customer experience.
“Despite the challenging environment, we remain in a strong capital position with S&P and AM Best reaffirming our strong credit ratings. As we head into 2021 we recognise the challenges in the economic environment but are energised by the clarity of our charitable purpose and are optimistic about the opportunities ahead.
“On behalf of all our charitable beneficiaries, I would like to thank all those who continue to support the Group’s work, enabling it to give to so many worthy causes at a time when the need has never been greater. Together, we are supporting charities, communities and improving lives.”