Hiscox Ltd. is a Bermuda-incorporated insurance provider, listed on the London Stock Exchange. An underwriter at Lloyd’s of London, the company largely specialises in niche areas of the market, offering property and casualty insurance aimed at companies and high-net-worth individuals, as well as cover against such risks as hacking, kidnapping and satellite damage. The firm is a constituent of the FTSE 250 Index.
The roots of the company lie with the Roberts agency, which commenced underwriting marine insurance at the Lloyd’s market in 1901. In 1946 Ralph Hiscox, who had joined the agency as an underwriter of non-marine insurance eight years earlier, formed the Roberts & Hiscox partnership for the purposes of managing syndicates at Lloyd’s. Hiscox was elected chairman of Lloyd’s in 1967, the same year his son Robert joined the group’s Syndicate 33 as an underwriter of fine art and personal accident insurance. Robert Hiscox subsequently took over as head of the partnership in 1970 after the death of his father, and set about growing the size of the business.
In 1987 the firm reorganised – a holding company, Hiscox Holdings Ltd, was established for the group, which comprised the subsidiaries Hiscox Syndicates (for managing syndicates) and Roberts & Hiscox (for introducing and advising members of the Lloyd’s market). Expansion beyond the London market followed in 1989 with the formation of a third subsidiary, Hiscox Underwriting, specifically for this purpose. Roberts & Hiscox and related interests were demerged in 1994, leaving the company as merely an underwriter and manager of syndicates. Having previously listed on the Alternative Investment Market, Hiscox plc transferred to the main market of the London Stock Exchange in July 1997. Following the purchase of a 28% stake in the company by Chubb Corporation in 1998, the company fought to remain independent, successfully rebuffing two takeover offers by 2001. Chubb subsequently sold off its interest in Hiscox in 2004.
Hiscox significantly expanded its UK retail insurance distribution at the turn of the century, opening offices in Leeds, Glasgow and Birmingham to insure predominantly SME professionals and private client homes via insurance brokers. Other sales offices soon followed in Maidenhead, Colchester and Manchester.
In 2005, the company opened a Bermuda office, writing a mix of worldwide reinsurance and retail business. The following year Hiscox plc moved its country of domicile from the United Kingdom to Bermuda, adopting the new name Hiscox Ltd. For 2009, the company increased its marketing budget from £400,000 to £10 million and launched a mass media campaign with the strap line “as good as our word”.
In 2011, Hiscox had a catastrophe-filled year. With floods in Australia, the tsunami in Japan, and many other catastrophes the company had to pay out a lot and profits suffered. In March 2014 Hiscox acquired direct-to-consumer online operation DirectAsia and in October 2014 Hiscox USA launched a new brand platform “Encourage Courage”.
The company sells both personal and commercial insurance cover in a range of areas: for individuals, Hiscox provides home and contents insurance for “higher value” houses, as well as classic car, fine art, bloodstock, kidnap and ransom and personal accident cover. For companies, cover types include property, marine, aerospace, professional indemnity, hacker, product recall and political risk insurance as well as reinsurance.
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