There won’t be any Googles setting up in rural Ireland - agri is its backbone - FBD's Muldoon

FBD chief executive Fiona Muldoon Photo: Damien Eagers
FBD chief executive Fiona Muldoon Photo: Damien Eagers
Ellie Donnelly

Ellie Donnelly

Agriculture is the backbone of rural Ireland and any impact on this will affect FBD, its Chief Executive Fiona Muldoon has said.

Speaking to the Irish Independent, she said "FBD will be impacted if our customers are impacted.

"The back bone of the rural Irish economy is agri, there won’t be any Googles setting up in rural Ireland, the real economy outside Dublin is agri, food and tourism related and in all of those cases Brexit can’t be seen as in any way a good thing because that’s a market of nearly 60m people and anything that gets in the way of trade with that market is a bad thing for Ireland."

She also said FBD is are doing the best it can in terms of supporting farmers on the small stuff, but it is really a Government response and that a political solution is needed.

It comes as FBD Insurance reported profit before tax of €38.6m in the six months to June 30, a jump on the profit of €18m in the same period last year.

The performance was driven by disciplined underwriting, a rebound in investment markets, a good winter and prior year reserve releases, according to interim results from the group.

The company looks on course to exceed its pre-tax profit of just over €50m in 2018.

Despite growth in new business, overall premium levels were down modestly to €190m, from €192m the prior year, which it said was due to a difficult competitive environment including “aggressive competition and sustained price pressure”.

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Last year saw AXA enter the farm insurance market, taking on FBD in a head-to-head battle for farmers pockets.

The group’s combined operating ratio (a measure of profitability) is 82.5pc compared to 88.6pc in 2018. This includes prior year reserve release of €8.8m.

Muldoon said she was pleased with the “strong” results and added that the group’s litigation claims costs continue to increase.

“The average cost of court awards, particularly for soft tissue injuries, remains too high,” she said.

Adding, “despite some judicial progress in limiting court awards we have seen no meaningful progress on structural reform and Irish businesses continue to be held to impossible standards in personal injury cases.”

FBD expects its full year 2019 return on equity will be mid-to-high teens.

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