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RSA Insurance Group

RSA Insurance Group plc
(trading as RSA)
Type Public limited company
Traded as LSE: RSA
Industry Insurance
Founded 1996 (London)
Headquarters London, United Kingdom
Key people

Martin Scicluna (Executive Chairman)

Stephen Hester (CEO)
Revenue £9,258 million (2013)[1]
Operating income £371 million (2013)[1]
Net income £(338) million (2013)[1]
Employees 23,000 (2013)[2]

RSA Insurance Group plc (trading as RSA, formerly Royal and Sun Alliance) (LSE: RSA) is a multinational general insurance company headquartered in London, United Kingdom. RSA operates in 28 countries and provides insurance products and services in more than 140 through a network of local partners. It has 17 million customers.[2] RSA was formed by the merger of Sun Alliance and Royal Insurance in 1996.

RSA is listed on the London Stock Exchange and is a constituent of the FTSE 100 Index.


  • History 1
  • Operations 2
    • Offices 2.1
      • Asia & Africa 2.1.1
      • Europe 2.1.2
      • North America and Caribbean 2.1.3
      • South America 2.1.4
  • Controversies 3
    • Asbestos liabilities 3.1
    • Inflated repair costs 3.2
    • Hillsborough Disaster 3.3
  • See also 4
  • References 5
  • Further reading 6
  • External links 7


RSA was formed following the merger of Sun Alliance and Royal Insurance in 1996.[3] Sun Alliance was itself a product of the merger in 1959 of The Sun, which was founded in 1710, with The Alliance, which was founded in 1824 by Nathan Mayer Rothschild and Moses Montefiore.[4] Sun Alliance went on to acquire London Assurance in 1965 (becoming Sun Alliance & London)[4] and Phoenix Assurance in 1984.[5]

Royal Insurance was founded in 1845.[4] It acquired Liverpool & London and Globe Insurance Company in 1919.[4] The company formally changed its name from Royal & Sun Alliance Insurance Group plc to RSA Insurance Group on 20 May 2008.[6]

In March 2009, RSA announced plans for the shedding of 1,200 jobs from its UK operations, a reduction of around 15%.[7]

On 4 February, it was announced that Stephen Hester, former CEO of RBS Group would become CEO of RSA with immediate effect.[8]


RSA operates in 30 countries and provides insurance products and services in more than 140 through a global network of local partners. It has over 17m customers around the world.[9]

RSA is the second-largest general insurer in the United Kingdom. Its global headquarters are in the City of London on 20 Fenchurch Street occupying floors 14-17 of the 'walkie-talkie' building. Its UK registered office is in St Mark's Court, Horsham. Other key UK offices are located in Liverpool, Bristol, Manchester, Chelmsford, Glasgow, Cardiff, Sunderland, Belfast, Peterborough, Halifax, and Birmingham. RSA, including its More Th>n brand, announced itself to be the first carbon neutral insurance company in the UK on 2 December 2006.[10]

RSA owns the More Than direct car, home, pet and travel insurance brand in the United Kingdom, recognised widely for its former Lucky The Dog advertisements and its "MORE IS ..." campaign. More Th>n also sells van, business car, shops and offices and business insurance through its More Than Business operation.[11]



Asbestos liabilities

In January 2002 Royal & Sun Alliance became involved in litigation over claims for injury arising from asbestosis among workers in Clyde shipyards. The workers alleged that between 1972–1977 R&SA had issued insurance certificates to asbestos manufacturer Turner & Newall but excluded cover for asbestosis, in breach of the Employers' Liability (Compulsory Insurance) Act 1969. R&SA responded that asbestos-related injury was excluded from the policy because it was a risk the company was not willing to underwrite, that Turner & Newall was instead self-insured against asbestosis and should therefore be responsible for any compensation.[12]

In February 2002 R&SA set aside £384 million to double its reserves available for asbestos claims which, combined with claims of £215 million arising from the 11 September attacks, wiped out its 2001 profits.[13][14] R&SA put up seven of its subsidiaries for sale in an attempt to raise a further £800 million to cover liabilities for asbestos insurance claims in the United States.[15] Friends Ivory & Sime subsequently acquired R&SA's UK asset management subsidiary in May 2002 for £240 million.[15] The situation was further compounded by R&SA having to reserve £1.2 billion against liabilities for guaranteed annuities, the product which caused the collapse of Equitable Life, and was also facing a fine from the Financial Services Authority for failure to meet the deadline in the pension mis-selling review.[16] Two months later Friends Provident acquired R&SA's offshore life unit International Financial Services Limited, based on the Isle of Man, for £133 million.[17] In July 2002 R&SA sold its group risk business to Canada Life for £60 million.[18] R&SA was forced to close its life business, with the loss of 1,200 jobs, in August 2002.[19]

In November 2002 Turner & Newall launched a suit against R&SA on behalf of former employees who had suffered asbestos-related disease, claiming that the insurer was liable because it provided employer liability policies to the engineering firm.[20] In an effort to reduce costs, R&SA chairman Sir Patrick Gillam said it would sell its US business RSUI and "float most of its Asia Pacific operations", bringing total job losses in the UK to 4000.[21] The case was heard at the High Court of Justice in January 2003.[22] R&SA argued that a policy clause which excluded cover for pneumoconiosis also excluded other asbestos-related disease such as asbestosis and peritoneal mesothelioma. Colin Edelman QC, representing T&N, told Mr Justice Lawrence Collins that the defence which R&SA had the "temerity" to put forward was "just ridiculous" and that the insurer was trying to "wriggle out of its liability."[23] On 9 May 2003 the court ruled that R&SA was liable for the compensation claims.[24] In September 2003 R&SA cut 1,000 jobs in the UK and asked shareholders for £960 million to cover further asbestos claims.[25]

Inflated repair costs

In September 2011, Judge Platt of the Romford County Court in his judgement attacked the method in which RSA recovered their costs by putting a subsidiary within the motor claims process to inflate profits. Several insurers are now refusing to pay RSA's requests for payment without sight of the original invoice.[26] On 15 June 2012, RSA Insurance was successful in a high court ruling with the boss of Adrian Brown stating the ruling meant "its practices have been deemed legal and its stance vindicated".[27]

Within hours, Allianz Insurance lodged an appeal with two main principles at the heart of the preliminary conclusions which they disagree and could increase claim costs, the first being that the loss in a case would be the reasonable cost of repair rather than what was paid. Secondly, the reasonable cost of repairs would be determined by what an individual would pay if arranged personally rather by an insurer. The issue being that a number of insurers have agreements where they pay lower amounts than the consumers which this new decision could lead to increase in costs.[28]

Since then RSA has started to make bilateral agreements, the first announced on 29 June 2012 with Cooperative Insurance.[29]

Hillsborough Disaster

The Royal Sun Alliance Insurance Company (which was the insurer for Sheffield Wednesday Football Club in 1989) refused to waive its entitlement to privilege, thus denying the Hillsborough Independent Panel access to its material. Strenuous efforts were made to persuade the company to allow the Panel confidential access to the relevant material, but it maintained its refusal.[30]

See also


  1. ^ a b c Preliminary Results 2013
  2. ^ a b "RSA: About us". RSA Group. Retrieved 17 March 2013. 
  3. ^ Smooth merger of Sun Alliance and Royal Insurance The Banker, June 1996
  4. ^ a b c d RSA Insurance Group History
  5. ^ Codan
  6. ^ Royal And Sun Alliance weathers the insurance storm Telegraph, 5 March 2008
  7. ^ RSA to cut 1,200 jobs Telegraph, 26 February 2009
  8. ^ "Former RBS chief Stephen Hester joins RSA as CEO". Telegraph. Telegraph Media Group Limited. Retrieved 5 February 2014. 
  9. ^ RSA Insurance Group Products
  10. ^ Royal & Sun Alliance is carbon neutral Carpages, 2 December 2006
  11. ^ More Th>n
  12. ^ Reynolds, James (25 January 2002). "Insurer rejects asbestos claims". The Scotsman (Edinburgh). p. 13. 
  13. ^ Treanor, Jill (1 March 2002). "Royal & Sun forced into sell-off as profits evaporate". The Guardian (Manchester). p. 27. 
  14. ^ Bevens, Nick (28 February 2002). "September 11 wipes out profits at R&SA".  
  15. ^ a b Dey, Iain (1 May 2002). "FIS doubles funds with £240 million R&SA deal". The Scotsman (Edinburgh). p. 1. 
  16. ^ Bain, Simon (12 June 2002). "Royal & Sun edges towards £800m target for disposals".  
  17. ^ Andrews, Bill (11 June 2002). "City round-up: Rival to buy R&SA offshore life unit".  
  18. ^ "Royal & Sun sells group risk". The Guardian (Manchester). 30 July 2002. p. 17. 
  19. ^ Senior, Antonia (9 August 2002). "Stricken insurer cuts jobs and shuts life business". The Times (UK). p. 25. 
  20. ^ Bevens, Nick (1 November 2002). "R&SA shares plunge over asbestos fight".  
  21. ^ Bevens, Nick (7 November 2002). "Insurance giant to axe 900 jobs".  
  22. ^ Snowdon, Neal (22 January 2003). "It's D-day in death dust cash battle".  
  23. ^ Stewart, Stephen (28 January 2003). "Insurers accused of shirking liability to asbestosis victims".  
  24. ^ "Damages fight goes on after ruling success".  
  25. ^ Slattery, Laura (5 September 2003). "Royal & Sun Alliance cuts 1,000 jobs in UK". The Irish Times (Dublin). p. 51. 
  26. ^ "Judge attacks car insurer's repair costs". 17 September 2011. Retrieved 26 March 2012. 
  27. ^ "RSA claims legal victory after ‘fabricated repair charges' case". 15 June 2012. Retrieved 30 June 2012. 
  28. ^ "Allianz slams RSA legal victory as it works on appeal". 15 June 2012. Retrieved 30 June 2012. 
  29. ^ "RSA agrees first bilateral agreement on motor repair costs". 29 June 2012. Retrieved 30 June 2012. 
  30. ^ "Hillsborough: The Report of the Hillsborough Independent Panel". September 2012. Retrieved September 2012. 

Further reading

  • Dickson, P. G. M (1960). The Sun Insurance Office, 1710–1960: The History of Two and a half Centuries of British Insurance. 

External links

  • RSA Insurance Group
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