- The Direct Line share price plunged 14.7% on its H1 trading update.
- The company’s operating ratios edged higher on costly car parts.
- Insurance companies face multiple challenges. Are they a buy?
The Direct Line Insurance Group PLC (LON: DLG) share price plunged 14.7% after the insurance company reported that its combined operating ratio for H1 rose to 96%-98%, despite its medium-term target range of 93%-95%.
The insurance group attributed its higher operating ratio to the higher value of claims driven by high inflation that has affected the prices of car parts and the prices of used cars. However, the company also revealed that it had not factored in the higher prices into its premium pricing, hence, the higher operating costs.
Also read: The Best Undervalued Stocks To Watch In 2022.
Direct Line reassured investors that it has now adjusted its premiums pricing models to reflect the higher prices, which has translated into higher premium payments starting in Q2 2022. The company also adjusted its risk model to avoid taking on higher-risk clients that tend to lead to higher claims.
However, investors seemed unconvinced by the company’s promises, given the significant decline in DLG’s share price. We saw a similar scenario happen when Sabre insurance released its half-year report last week, as covered by my colleague.
Direct Line also targets an expense ratio of 20% but said it is unlikely this goal will be achieved this year given the reduction in the average premiums charged on motor vehicle insurance since the company set this target.
A positive development for the company that has emerged recently is the rate hikes implemented by the Bank of England, which have raised the company’s expected yield outlook. As a result, the firm expects to generate an average yield of 1.7% in 2022.
Overall, the insurance sector faces multiple headwinds affecting large and small insurance firms. However, there is a silver lining: companies can increase the premiums customers pay to acquire insurance products.
Still, the high cost of living has left many consumers with less disposable income to spend on insurance. Hence, there is a risk that larger firms will lose clients to smaller and nimbler companies that offer lower premiums.
*This is not investment advice. Always do your due diligence before making investment decisions.
Direct Line share price.
The Direct Line share price plunged 14.71% to trade at 184.72p, falling from Friday’s closing price of 216.60p.