BRUSSELS, Feb 11 (Reuters) - Belgian insurer Ageas on Thursday reported a weaker-than-expected net profit from its insurance activities in the fourth quarter, as its Belgian business suffered from a weak performance of its third-party liability products.
Net insurance profit rose 1 percent in the fourth quarter to 158 million euros ($178.8 million), well below the 178 million expected in a Reuters poll of five analysts.
The group said third-party liability insurance in Belgium suffered from higher claim ratios but added that it would increase tariffs and change underwriting rules to improve the performance of this business.
Ageas, the successor to bailed out and broken up Belgian-Dutch group Fortis, increased its dividend to 1.55 euros per share, more than the 1.50 euros that analysts had expected on average.
For the group as a whole, the combined ratio - costs plus claims as a percentage of revenues, a key profit indicator in the non-life sector - rose to 99.6 percent in 2014 from 98.3 percent in 2013, because it had to pay out more for weather damage at the start of the year. ($1 = 0.8839 euros) (Reporting by Robert-Jan Bartunek; editing by Philip Blenkinsop)