B.P. Marsh & Partners Plc - Investee Company Update
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Walsingham is a London based Managing General Agency, specialising in fleet insurance for public and private taxi fleets and couriers in the UK. It is backed by The New India Assurance Co. Ltd ("New India"), the Indian government owned insurance company with £9bn of assets, who have been operating in the London market since 1921. Walsingham have grown from a start-up to now writing over £26,000,000 in Gross Written Premiums ("GWP").
B.P. Marsh invested in Walsingham in December 2013, and owns a 40.5% direct shareholding, together with an additional indirect 2.3% via Walsingham Holdings Limited. In total it has invested £600,000 in equity and valued this combined holding at £2,103,000 at 31st January 2020. In addition, B.P. Marsh also provided £1,200,000 of loan funding to support expansion which was repaid in full in July 2020.
Walsingham's business was impacted by Covid-19 and the lockdown restrictions. They foresaw that their taxi portfolio, which represents c.50% of their book, would be subject to mass cancellations, and the courier portfolio would see increased vehicles and drivers. Walsingham immediately recognised the need to allow taxi policyholders flexibility in their work and allowed for food and shopping deliveries as well as various NHS support work to be undertaken without the need for policy extensions. This meant the retention of taxi fleets on the portfolio, which are once again already approaching full capacity.
Walsingham's team worked hard to keep up to date with requests for vehicles to be added to courier fleets, while ensuring that driver underwriting criteria was still being adhered to. This effort not only helped their Brokers and Policyholders, but also local communities reliant on drivers' incomes and distribution of food and medicines.
Walsingham saw approximately 10% of their book reduce over a four-week period as taxi drivers reacted to the lockdown. However, due to Walsingham's initiative and flexibility, as those restrictions eased GWP has increased significantly such that the initial Covid-19 reductions have now reversed, and the business is back on its original budget. At the same time, due to reduced traffic on the road this has resulted in significantly reduced claims frequencies over the last four months.
Garry Watson, Walsingham's CEO stated "At a time when many businesses within our sector are struggling to come to terms with the impact of Covid-19, Walsingham has not furloughed any staff and has been able to repay our outstanding investor loan ahead of schedule . The business has shown its trading strength during this unique period and capitalised on its core strengths; namely flexibility, organisation and planning, while utilising the excellent relationships we have built with our trading partners."