Not since Yeats asked “what rough beast, its hour come round at last, Slouches towards Bethlehem to be born?” has literature spawned a more viscerally disturbing image than that offered by Insurance Times this week as it described a “bodily-injury claims plague” “creeping up on the Cardiff-based insurer.”

Investors, the paper reports, have “fled” in the face of the approaching monster – presaged by the Admiral’s frank confession that it won’t be meeting its targets this year, sending its shares plummeting by a literally horrifying 28.6%.

There was better news from another coastal town further south, however, as Ageas confounded the world of general insurance by recording a combined operating ratio of under 100% (99.9% to be precise) for the first 3/4s of 2011 on a motor-insurance heavy book. How has Ageas achieved this seemingly unfeasible feat, recording a five-fold increase in profits to £78m in the process?

It turns out CEO Barry Smith has been building some kind of platform and that has made all the difference. So hats off to some excellent platform construction. But what’s that crazy name about? No, not Barry Smith. Ageas – or however you say it.

Perhaps you know. But please don’t email [email protected] with your insights, because we’ve already carried out our own in-depth investigation, which you can further blight your afternoon by reading here (if you’ve really got nothing better to do).


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