Equity Insurance Group

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Industry Insurance
Founded 1946 (1946)
Headquarters London, England
Key people
Ian Parker (Chief Executive Officer)
Mark Bacon (Underwriter Director)
Alex Hardy (Sales Director)
Katie Wade (Chief Financial officer)
Tim Yorke (Chief Operating Officer)
Peter Hessey (HR Director)
Ryan Warren (Chief Risk Officer)
Donna Willis (Director Of Operations)
Gina Butterworth (Underwriting Director)
Jonathan Watson (Marketing Director)
Peter Smith (Claims Director)
Number of employees
Parent Aquiline Capital Partners
Website www.ers.com

Equity Red Star (ERS) is a specialist motor insurer. It has been providing insurance products for more than 70 years and now provides cover solely via Lloyd’s Syndicate 218. ERS offers a diverse range of products, including private car, classic car, van, motorcycle, taxi, minibus, fleet, haulage, agricultural vehicle and motor breakdown.


ERS began life in 1946 as Equity Motor Policies, a Lloyd's syndicate. In 1987 the company merged with Red Star to form Equity Red Star. Nine years later the company was bought by Cox Insurance, a Lloyd's underwriting business specialising in nuclear, marine and catastrophe insurance.

In 2002, following losses incurred due to 9/11, Cox Insurance withdrew from its commercial insurance activity to focus on personal lines. The business raised new equity capital to support its motor underwriting operation.

A management buyout of the business in 2005 led to a new focus and a new name, Equity Insurance Group – led by CEO, Neil Utley - backed by investors Englefield and Duke Street Capital. It was headquartered at Brentwood,_Essex. Further facilities are located in Colchester and Swansea. The group's high street broking network was rebranded, converging Bennetts, Insure-shop and JMW to become Equity Insurance Brokers.

On 4 December 2006, Australian insurer Insurance Australia Group announced that it would acquire Equity Insurance Group for £570 million and Open + Direct Insurance Services, the largest retail broking operation in Northern Ireland.. The acquisition was completed on 8 January 2007 and Neil Utley, then CEO, joined the executive team of IAG. IAG also acquired Barnett & Barnett in 2008, and went on to dispose of its branch-based broking in 2009.

In May 2012, IAG announced a strategic review of its UK operations, selling Barnett & Barnett and the NBJ Broking arm. In April 2013 US Private Equity company Aquiline purchased Equity Insurance Group from IAG for £80 million. This prompted a transformation programme which led to the sale of EDBL and its personal accident and household books to Arista. In April 2014, Equity Insurance Group rebranded to ERS and became a "motor only, broker only" insurer. It now operates solely as an A+ rated Lloyd's syndicate 218.[1]

In 2014 ERS underwent structural changes to drive further organisational efficiencies and implement steps to help the company achieve its goal of a 90% combined operational ratio. This involved consolidating ERS’ offices into two locations (London and Swansea) and expanding both locations for growth. As a result the Brentwood head office was closed with the majority of work that had been undertaken there split between London and Swansea. However servicing for ERS’ direct classic car arm, RH Insurance, remains in Brentwood at an alternative site.[citation needed]



ERS announced a full calendar year profit of £8.3m, the first it has reported since 2009 and a £28m improvement year on year. The combined ratio improved by 6.6% to 101% from the prior year, with improvements across all ratios but the majority of improvement coming from the loss ratio. Gross written premiums £388m, down from £406m.

ERS has approved the closure of its 2012 year of account with a small profit, £1.4m, 0.3% of capacity. This is the first year of account since 2007 to close with a profit and is an improvement on the forecast provided last year which was for a small loss of £1.1m or 0.2% of capacity. The forecast released for the 2013 year of account remains a small loss of 0.9% of capacity with a forecast of -5.9% to +4.1%. This is an improvement on the forecast at the same point last year which was -7.3% to +2.7% and also an improvement on the Q3 2014 forecast.[1]


The calendar year profit for 2015 was 6.0m and the combined ratio improved to 99.8% (2014: 101%) and is below 100% for the first time since 2009, with improvements across all ratios but the majority of improvement coming from the loss ratio. Gross written premiums £394m, an increase of 2% from 2014.

ERS has approved the closure of its 2013 year of account with a profit, £10.7m, 2.4% of capacity, this is an improvement from a year ago which forecast 2013 as a small loss of 0.9% of capacity and a range of -5.9% to +4.1%. The current forecast released for the 2014 year of account remains a loss of 3.4% of capacity with a forecast of -8.4% to +1.6%.[2]


ERS has received the following national awards:

  • 2014 Brand Campaign of the Year (Insurer to Broker) - Insurance Times Awards[3]
  • 2016 Technology Champion of the Year (Individual, Tim Yorke) - Tech and Innovation Awards[4]


  1. ^ "ERS returns to profit". ERS. Retrieved 7 June 2015. 
  2. ^ "ERS second successive year of profit and COR of 99.8%". ERS. Retrieved 24 April 2016. 
  3. ^ "Insurance Times Awards 2014: Winners Revealed". Insurance Times. Retrieved 7 June 2015. 
  4. ^ Newsdesk. "Insurance Times Awards 2016 finalists revealed". Insurance Times. Retrieved 2016-10-10. 

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