- Motor insurance underwriter Sabre Insurance has reported that at the end of March its premium was down 5% year on year at £43.7m versus £45.9m, as the initial impact of COVID-19 emerged, while new business quotations were down as much as 25% since late March.

In a trading update, chief executive Geoff Carter said that premium volumes continued to be 'extremely volatile', citing consumer behaviour and competitor pricing activity.

Carter added: 'Since late March, as the full social distancing measures impacted, we estimate that new business quotations in the market have been down by up to 25% on a weekly basis compared to 2019, primarily driven by the lack of car sales.

'At the end of April, year-to-date premiums were down around 15%, although we have seen an improvement in premium levels as May has progressed.'

The company reported that claims frequency reduced significantly throughout late March and April, and that from late April it introduced price decreases for new and renewal business following detailed analysis.

Sabre Insurance announced strong organic capital generation with a solvency coverage ratio of 186% as at 31 March 2020, post-payment of 2019 full-year dividend, exceeding its preferred range of 140% to 160%.

Carter added: 'With market volatility expected to continue at least until the current social distancing measures start to ease, and probably for several months thereafter, it remains difficult to forecast the full-year premium outcome with any certainty at this stage.

'However, we are confident that the year-on-year reduction in premium written reflects the temporary and unique market conditions and volatility.'

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