Admiral Group PLC

Origins

Admiral first launched in January 1993. Two of the people who set up and launched the company are still heading up the company. Their main motivation was that they wanted to control their own destiny and start a successful business. They could see there was a major move in the insurance market from traditional brokers to direct insurers. They could also see that some of the early direct insurers weren’t catering for large parts of the market such as younger motorists and those living in cities. There were numerous challenges in those early days. Firstly, Admiral was unheard of when it launched. Nobody knew who Admiral was, so they needed to gain recognition and trust quickly. Secondly, a lack of money, if the company didn’t succeed quickly and make money it couldn’t prosper. Finally, the business lacked the information vital to do insurance. In order to price premiums accurately, statistics and claims data are vital and, as a new insurance company it didn’t yet have this information

Success Factor

First is a tight control of expense. As a business, the Admiral Group is extremely cost efficient. It doesn’t have expensive offices, doesn’t waste money and accounts for every pound it spends. And this attitude is common throughout everyone who works for Admiral. Its expense ratio is one of the lowest in the insurance sector and combined with the loss ratio (the amount it pays out in claims) is the best of any major UK insurer. Secondly, the culture: Admiral believes that its culture is unique, there are four cornerstones to it: Equality – Admiral has a very flat structure, most managers work on the floor, there are no company cars, everyone has the same chair; Reward and recognition – as well as the share scheme which recognises the contribution all staff make to the company’s success, Admiral likes to celebrate achievement and long service of its staff; communication – Admiral puts a lot of emphasis in providing information through as many channels as possible and always make it two-way; Fun – everyone at Admiral likes to have fun, both in work and outside work and the firm’s philosophy is that people who enjoy what they do, do it better. Finally, Admiral focuses on what it knows and would rather be experts in one field rather than spread itself thinly selling different products and providing different services. It knows car insurance and is very good at it.

The Future

Admiral is planning for on-going recruitment at all three UK sites. It currently employs over 4,600 in Cardiff, Newport and Swansea. This growth also means new office space is needed and central to this is the new Cardiff HQ in Bridge Street, which will house up to 3,000 people in one space. Another new office is also being developed that will have space for potentially 1,100 people. Admiral will also be looking into home insurance and aims to be grow by taking what has made the company successful in car insurance and applying it to this market. Admiral also plans to continue the growth of its international brands, as all of its overseas operations are still relatively small compared with the UK. The UK car insurance market is way ahead of the rest of Europe in terms of use of price comparison as a distribution channel and Admiral wants to take what it has successfully learned from the UK market to its international brands. In the UK, Admiral still only has 11% or so of the market so there is plenty of room for growth here and there is a lot of the UK insurance market that it can still capture.