Engage steers a steady course through market turmoil

Posted in: Corporate Last updated: 06 Jun 2009

Against the backdrop of a challenging business environment and stock market declines, a cautious approach has enabled Yorkshire-based mutual, engage, to deliver growth and strategic progress in 2008.

Highlights include:

1. the launch of a new health insurance subsidiary
2. customer base increased by 18%
3. net premiums written for life funds increased by 21%
4. more than £54m paid out to policyholders in claims.

“The playing out of a long term strategy for growth and diversity, together with tight control over expenses and a careful approach to risk, meant that the society was well placed to meet the challenges of the past year,” commented, engage Mutual chief executive, Andrew Haigh.

“The market conditions experienced in 2008 meant that investment returns were impacted across the industry. As a mutual we focus solely on the interests of our customers and we took steps, wherever possible, to protect them from the worst effects of the market volatility. Looking forward to our next trading year we anticipate continued market challenges, but plan for cautious business growth in areas where we have identified potential.”

investment for growth
The launch of a new health insurance subsidiary (engage Mutual Insurance Ltd) followed by the acquisition of Premier Health Benefits, added 30,000 new health cash plan customers to the society – an important first step in developing a significant health business within the group.

Confirming continued support for its brand investment, the mutual also announced a two year extension to its sponsorship of the engage Super League.

diversity of product and distribution
Despite an increasingly competitive over 50s market place, engage maintained its position as one of the country’s leading providers (3rd with an 8% market share1) of over 50s life insurance. In addition, more than 24,000 new child trust fund accounts were opened in ’08 (bringing the total for engage to just under 200,000 child trust fund customers).

engage distributes its products through a range of direct marketing activities, with over 50% of new business received via online applications in 2008. Working with partners including National Australia Group, and a range of IFA network channels delivered gross new business of £3.5m from life policies in the year.

delivering mutuality
engage is guided by a mission to help its customers provide for their families’ financial futures with a range of simple, good value savings, health and insurance products.

2008 saw more than £54m paid out in claims and, through modern and efficient systems and processes, a continued drive to improve service across the product range.

Following customer feedback, new, free services were made available on over 50s life cover direct, including elderly care advice and an option to ‘legal charge’ policy payouts. The free legal charge option, in partnership with The Co-operative Funeralcare, allows for payment to be made directly from an individual’s policy towards a funeral, and provides £250 from The Co-operative Funeralcare towards funeral costs2.

In addition, engage reaffirmed its commitment to ‘doing more’ by continuing its support of the local community. In addition to sponsoring the Kirkwood Hospice Midnight Memory Walk in Huddersfield, engage continued to work with Saint Michael’s Hospice in Harrogate – sponsoring the Hospice’s flagship Midnight Walk fund raiser for the second year, and becoming a member of Saint Michael’s Guild of Patrons.

For more information contact:
Kathryn McLaughlin
PR Manager
01423 855245

1. Swiss Re Term & Health Watch 2008. Engage came third of the top five product providers measured by the number of new sales, 2007
2. £250 contribution provided by The Co-operative Funeralcare to be redeemed against the policyholders’s funeral costs, provided the funeral is carried out by The Co-operative Funeralcare.

notes to Editors:
1. engage Mutual Assurance is a trading name of Homeowners Friendly Society Ltd (HFSL), Registered and incorporated under the Friendly Societies Act 1992, Registered number 964F and its wholly-owned subsidiaries, engage Mutual Funds Limited (eMFL) and engage Mutual Insurance Ltd (eMIL). Both HFSL and eMFL are authorised and regulated by the Financial Services Authority (FSA). HFSL’s Register number is 110072, eMFL’s Register number is 181487. eMIL is authorised to conduct general insurance business by the Gibraltar Financial Services Commission and is regulated by the Financial Services Authority for the conduct of UK business. eMIL’s FSA Register No is 485680. You can check this on the FSA’s Register by visiting the FSA website www.fsa.gov.uk/register or by contacting the FSA on 0845 606 1234.

2. engage is one of the larger UK mutuals providing simple, value for money savings, protection and investment products. It currently helps over 420,000 customers of all ages to protect, preserve or enhance their welfare, with some of the most straightforward products on the market. engage prides itself on being a family-oriented, modern mutual, providing products that help enable households of all kinds to plan their finances to help meet their future needs. More information on engage Mutual is available at www.engagemutual.com

3. engage supports mutuality, friendly societies and the regional financial services industry through links with the Association of Mutual Insurers, the Association of Friendly Societies, Mutuo and Leeds Financial Services Initiative.

4. engage Mutual Funds Limited (EMFL) is a provider of the Child Trust Fund direct and in partnership with organisations including Yorkshire Building Society and Scarborough Building Society.

5. engage Mutual has been the title sponsor of the Rugby Super League since 2005 and has extended its agreement to 2010.

6. engage Mutual announced its entry into the health cash plan market in July 2008 following an agreement of partnership with Wakefield & District Hospital’s Contributory Scheme (WDHCS). Further to this, 30,000 health cash plan customers transferred from Premier Health Benefits (part of WDHCS) to engage Mutual Insurance Ltd.