March 8, 2013

Admiral’s Sir Henry Angelheart has a famously colourful turn of phrase.* Unveiling the nautically inclined insurer’s 2012 results, he described the 12 months in question as ‘the Year of the Kangaroo’. This is not (as you were probably thinking) a reference to the classificatory system devised by ancient Chinese astrologers, who, (if you’d only thought this through properly) were blissfully ignorant at the time of the existence of kangaroos or indeed any other marsupial species.

No indeed: it alludes to the fact (obvious when he explains it) that 2012 “bounced around a little bit but turns out to be pretty big, strong and energetic, with the babies protected in the mother’s pouch.” Setting aside the fact that actual non-metaphorical kangaroos carry but a single ‘baby’ in their pouch at a time, it is pretty clear what Sir Henry is getting at.

Now, obviously you wouldn’t turn to Bankstone News for a factual update on Admiral’s spring-footed ‘return to form’ during the Year of the Kangaroo, but we can tell you that the firm made some profits. £258.4m of them to be precise, which was leaps and bounds ahead of the £221.1m it made in 2011 (the Year of the Echidna). This was helped by avoiding any bodily injury claims spikes of the kind on which the firm incautiously impaled itself in the tail end of 2011.

The babies may be safely pouched, but Sir Henry must surely sense a certain wistful twinge where the firm’s dwindling ancillary income is concerned. This fell by 6% during YoK to £170.9m (2011: £181.5m), at which level it still accounted for 46% of Admiral’s UK motor profit. Referral fees (£18.6m of which Admiral stowed merrily in its tucker bag during YoK) are clearly on the verge of extinction. Credit hire referral fees (£13.6m) could soon go the same way if the Competition Commission reports back with a dim view.

But it looks like old Kanga, 20 this year, is not quite out of bounds yet.

* For more on Angelheart’s bizarre penchant for animal allusions, click here.


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