By Jemima Kelly
LONDON May 14 British auto insurer Admiral Group Plc posted a 7 percent drop in turnover in the first three months of 2014 despite a 6 percent increase in customers, amid sliding UK car insurance premiums.
In a trading statement on Wednesday, the Cardiff-based insurance group announced turnover of 514 million pounds ($865 million), down from 551 million pounds for the same period last year.
Admiral's insurance premiums were down 11 percent year-on-year, though the number of vehicles it insured in the UK was up 2 percent to 3.08 million.
"Little has changed since the full year results and our expectations for 2014 remain positive and unchanged," said Chief Executive Henry Engelhardt, who had called 2013's results "solid but not flashy".
Premiums in the highly competitive UK car insurance market fell by 19 percent in the first three months of 2014 compared with the same period last year, the lowest since 2009, according to a recent survey by consultant Towers Watson and Admiral's own price-comparison website Confused.com.
The FTSE 100 insurance group's other brands include Elephant, Diamond and Bell.
Admiral was buoyed by overseas growth in the first quarter, with the number of vehicles it insured abroad up 17 percent at 535,000 and international car insurance turnover up 13 percent at 54 million pounds.
"Growth outside the UK remains strong and we are happy with the progress we are making in all our international markets," added Engelhardt.
($1 = 0.5939 British Pounds) (Reporting by Jemima Kelly; Editing by Anjuli Davies and Mark Potter)