Liberty Insurance gets €40m boost from US parent

The former Quinn insurance business Liberty Insurance has been given a €40m cash injection from its parent group to boost its solvency.

The investment was made late last month, according to company filings, and brings the total investment in the Irish company by the Boston-based Liberty Mutual group to nearly €270m.

Deirdre Ashe, director of personal insurance lines for Liberty, said that the capital contribution was “part of a planned schedule of investment” in the company. She added that it would help Liberty meet its capital requirements under the EU Solvency II directive, which came into force at the start of last year and dictates the amount of capital that insurance companies must hold to reduce the risk of insolvency.

Liberty Mutual acquired Quinn insurance company in 2011 from administrators appointed by the financial regulator. It made a €202m cash investment in the company at the time, and a follow-on capital contribution of €25m in 2014.

Liberty has struggled to make a profit in Ireland, recording a pre-tax loss of €69m in 2015 on top of nearly €29m lost the previous year. The company’s gross written premiums fell by almost 10% to €256.2m in 2015 after it discontinued its British business and scaled back its Northern Irish operations.

In the 2015 accounts, the directors said there was a multi-year programme “to return the company to underwriting profitability”. The company employs about 400 people, down from the 1,500 employed by Quinn Insurance at its peak, following several rounds of redundancies.

The latest figures from Liberty Mutual show the Irish business had gross written premiums of $170m (€159m) in the first nine months of 2016. It was the eighth-largest insurer in the market, with 6.1% market share.