February 14, 2019 / 7:22 AM / 3 days ago

Insurer Lancashire swings to profit in 2018, expects higher rates

(Reuters) - Property and casualty insurer Lancashire Holdings Ltd swung to a profit in 2018 from a loss a year earlier, helped by a rise in gross written premiums as it predicted rises in rates across many of its businesses.

The Lloyd’s of London insurer, which writes policies for heavy-duty assets such as oil rigs, ships and aircraft, reported profit before tax of $33.6 million (26 million pounds) for the year ended Dec.31, compared with a loss of $72.9 million a year earlier.

Gross written premiums rose 7.9 percent to $638.5 million for the year, and the company’s combined ratio - a measure of underwriting profitability - improved to 92.2 percent from 124.9 percent last year. A level below 100 percent indicates an underwriting profit.

Lancashire Chief Executive Alex Maloney said loss activity in the fourth quarter had been higher than average but, like its larger rivals Beazley, but the loss ratio suggested claims from Atlantic hurricanes, typhoons in Asia and the California wildfires were lower compared to a year earlier.

The industry faced record losses in 2017 due to the impact of hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria and Mexican earthquakes. Lancashire gave a total estimated net loss figure for 2018 of $164.7 million, versus $181.8 million in 2017.

The underwriter, which offers insurance schemes for heavy-duty assets such as oil rigs, ships and aircraft, said 2018 net losses included $56.1 million in relation to its marine portfolio, hurricane Florence and typhoons Jebi, Mangkhut and Trami.

The fourth quarter of 2018 was impacted by hurricane Michael and the California wildfires. Its net losses recorded for these events were $48.8 million.

Reporting by Muvija M and Noor Zainab Hussain in Bengaluru; Editing by Arun Koyyur and Patrick Graham

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