BRUSSELS, May 10 (Reuters) - Belgian insurance group Ageas reported on Wednesday a higher-than-expected profit of its insurance activities in the first quarter, supported by growth in its operations in Belgium and continental Europe which offset a slump in Britain.
Net insurance profit rose 11 percent in the first quarter to 222 million euros ($241.9 million), above the 190 million euros expected in a Reuters poll of five analysts.
Profits in Belgium grew by 42 percent, mainly supported by non-life insurance where its combined ratio - costs plus claims as a percentage of revenues, a key profit indicator in the non-life sector - fell to 92.7 percent from 99.7 percent last year when it was hit by the impact of attacks in Brussels.
Net profit also grew in continental Europe, aided by growth in Portugal, Italy and Turkey.
The group's British business, which sells insurance products for supermarket group Tesco, saw profits all but collapse in the first quarter, mainly due to a change to the way compensation payments are calculated in personal injury claims.
The change will increase the size of lump sum pay outs, a threat to British motor insurers' profitability.
"Although various mitigating actions have already been taken, the impact will continue to be felt throughout the year," Ageas said in a statement, adding that premium payments had begun to rise. ($1 = 0.9179 euros) (Reporting by Robert-Jan Bartunek; editing by Philip Blenkinsop)