Legal lead generator National Accident Helpline (NAH) today unveiled strong results for its first year as an AIM-listed business and indicated that it will continue to move beyond its core of personal injury to other areas of consumer law.
Revenue at NAH – mainly generated from solicitors – was up 10.4% to £43.8m in 2014, while profit jumped 29.3% to £12.7m when pre-LASPO after-the-event insurance income is stripped out.
At the same time, the average price paid by panel law firms was down 3.2%.
Enquiries were up 15.3% in 2014, three-quarters of which were from the “faster growing” non-road traffic accident (RTA) and medical negligence sectors. NAH said this was more from increasing market share, rather than a growing market.
In all, NAH’s call centre in Kettering dealt with 248,000 consumer contacts in 2014, of which 83,000 were passed on to one of 50 panel firms. This resulted eventually in 48,000 cases being run.
The stock exchange was told that the PI market is estimated at approximately £3bn and has approximately one million claims per annum.
“The market remains relatively flat, although medical negligence is growing at 12.4% and non-RTA at 7.1% pa. The market has seen some consolidation; however, it remains fragmented with our overall share at an estimated 4%, with market shares of 1.9% in RTA, 11.6% in non-RTA and 5.8% in medical negligence.”
CEO Russell Atkinson said this fragmentation meant NAH has “significant opportunity to continue increasing market share while developing our product offerings”.
Last month NAH made its first foray beyond personal injury by buying conveyancing lead generator Fitzalan Partners for £4.3m. Mr Atkinson said: “We will continue to focus on a small number of right-sized income generative acquisitions that either add value to our core PI business or enable us to extend into related areas of consumer law where we can replicate our model in different markets.
“The combination of our brand strength, marketing expertise, anticipated enquiry growth and innovative product and service development, means we are well placed to continue our growth in 2015.”
The 2014 report indicated that changes were afoot in the NAH panel. “With increasing volumes, we are beginning to explore new partnering arrangements that will allow us to better deal with volume growth. This allows us to develop alternative strategies for dealing with high growth in volumes, cost effectively, while maintaining the quality of our panel.”
Other developments coming this year are a new after-the-event insurance product, along with an “enhanced” medical negligence screening service that will “accelerate the case progression and reduce cost risk for our panel law firms, and bring more certainty to the legal process”.
NAH pointed to various pieces of research which said that, in the personal injury market, it was the most trusted brand on TV, the most searched for online brand by name, the number one daytime TV and overall online spender, and the number one in internet hits.