FBD Holdings recorded a pre-tax profit of €39m in the first six months of 2019, up from €18.4m in 2018, the group's half year results show.

The insurance group reported a small decrease in premium levels, with its gross written premium down to €190m, compared to €192m in the same period last year.

The group says the results reflect demonstrate a solid underlying profitability and disciplined underwriting.

The performance was also boosted by benign weather conditions in the first half of the year and the release of some prior year reserves. 

"There's a number of one-offs in the underwriting result, including last year's result which had a major winter storm in it, Storm Emma," said FBD Holdings CEO Fiona Muldoon. "There was quite a bit of traditional winter weather as well, where as this year there has been exceptionally benign winter weather so there is no like-for-like storm."

However the business is facing considerably competitive pressure, she said, which led to a fall in gross written premiums caused by what it called a marginal fall in the insurance rates it charges.

"We are running an ad campaign for car insurance from €399, I think that represents a pass-back in terms of competitiveness", Ms Muldoon said. "Nothing has actually happened to lower court awards; we've had a judicial council bill set up... that's an important first step but we do now need to action."

Recent figures from the court service showed a 14% decrease in the value of personal injury claims last year, while the Personal Injuries Assessment Board saw claims values fall by 5.2%.

However Ms Muldoon says lower courts - which tend to deal most with whiplash and personal injury cases - have seen awards increase.

"Our data, which is all I can talk about, show that Circuit Court awards are well up," she said. "There is still inflation in the system."

The issue of fraud also came under the spotlight in recent weeks, as insurance firms were challenged on the level of fraudulent and exaggerated claims that they face.

Ms Muldoon again said that they could not go to An Garda Síochána with many of the cases that they suspect to be fraudulent, but said they always challenge them as much as they can.

When asked specifically if FBD Holdings ever settle with cases where fraud or exaggeration is suspected, Ms Muldoon said they do not.

The company also warns that a hard Brexit is likely to negatively impact rural Ireland and says it is planning for some limited operational impacts that may arise as a result. 

Based on its first half results and assuming a more normalised second half, the group expects its full-year return on equity to be in the mid to high teens.