May 7, 2019 / 6:56 AM / 2 months ago

Insurer Hiscox's first quarter premiums rise on higher rates

(Reuters) - Hiscox Ltd reported higher gross written premiums for the first quarter as the Lloyd’s of London insurer saw rates improving in the London market, although it said the region was hit by higher frequency of property losses.

The FTSE-100 insurer, which underwrites a range of risks including fine art, vintage cars, kidnap and ransom, said gross written premiums on a constant currency basis rose 3.3 percent to $1.16 billion (884.28 million pounds), for the quarter ended March 31.

The robust results come after Hiscox reported higher profit and written premiums for 2018 as the industry got some relief following record insurance losses in 2017 from hurricanes, typhoon and wildfires.

The underwriter, part of the oldest insurance market in the world, said rates rose 4 percent in the London market since the year started, adding most significant rises were seen in cargo, marine hull and U.S. public company directors and officers liability insurance.

Insurance premiums, pressured by tough competition, are now rising after the industry faced record bills from hurricanes, earthquakes and wildfire of over $135 billion in 2017.

Hiscox, which has over 3,300 staff across 14 countries and 34 offices, said gross written premiums in its London business climbed 5.3 percent in constant currency to $228.6 million.

Smaller rival Lancashire last week reported a small rise in quarterly gross written premiums as it paid out fewer claims and benefited from a pickup in insurance prices.

Reporting by Muvija M and Noor Zainab Hussain in Bengaluru; editing by Shounak Dasgupta and Gopakumar Warrier

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