Liberty Insurance to make loss in coming years

Group expects 135 redundancies in Dublin, with 115 planned in Cavan

The Liberty Insurance offices in Cavan. About 115 jobs are to go at the group’s operation there. Photograph: Alan Betson/The Irish Times

The Liberty Insurance offices in Cavan. About 115 jobs are to go at the group’s operation there. Photograph: Alan Betson/The Irish Times

 

 

Liberty Insurance will be loss making for at least the next couple of years as it attempts to put its business in Ireland on a sustainable footing amid challenging market conditions.

The company, a subsidiary of US-based Liberty Mutual, announced 270 redundancies at its offices in Cavan, Blanchardstown and Enniskillen yesterday. This was largely due to a decision to exit the personal motor market in the UK but some of the job losses are connected to difficult trading conditions in Ireland.

When asked if Liberty might return to profit in 2016, its chief executive Tom McIlduff said it would be a “little further out”.

Latest accounts show that Liberty made a loss of €12 million here in 2013. Mr McIlduff said it also recorded a loss last year and would be in deficit again in 2015.

Liberty acquired the former Quinn Insurance business out of administration in a two-part transaction starting in 2011.

“It’s fair to say that we didn’t expect to be in this position when we entered the market three years ago,” Mr McIlduff told The Irish Times. “It has proved to be more difficult than we had anticipated, particularly in Great Britain.”

In spite of the difficulties experienced here, Mr McIlduff said the company continues to have the “strong support” of its Boston parent group, which he said was “fully committed to Ireland”.

Liberty plans to implement 135 redundancies in Dublin, 115 in Cavan, and 20 in Enniskillen, where it is to transfer its contact centre to a third-party provider.

Liberty, which employs 950 people in Ireland, said it hoped that all redundancies would be voluntary and that they will be completed over the next 18 months. Departing staff are being offered four week’s pay for every year of service in addition to statutory redundancy.

Mr McIlduff said withdrawing from the UK market, focusing on Ireland and streamlining its operating model would enable it to strengthen its competitive position here.

The job losses comes just over a year after Liberty Mutual announced plans to expand its presence after acquiring the Northern Ireland-based broker Hughes Insurance.

Meanwhile, rival insurer RSA is consolidating its call centre operations in Dublin and two centres in the west into one base in Galway.

RSA is seeking voluntary redundancies from the affected staff, reportedly up to 120 although this number was not confirmed by the company.

It is understood the RSA scheme is still open, and Dublin call centre staff who do not take redundancy will be offered relocation packages to move to Galway.