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Hannover Re first-quarter profit up on strong life/health results

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Hannover Re S.E. posted net income of €279.7 million ($300.3 million) for the first quarter of 2015, up 20.0% compared with the first quarter of 2014, the German reinsurer announced Wednesday.

Ulrich Wallin, CEO of Hannover Re, said the company's profit had been boosted by a strong performance in life and health reinsurance and a satisfactory underwriting result for property/casualty reinsurance business.

Mr. Wallin also said that Hannover Re was confident that it would achieve profit of about €875 million ($979.9 million) for the full year.

Net income for property/casualty reinsurance was €171.4 million ($184.0 million) for the first three months of 2015, Hannover Re said, down 13.4% from the first quarter of 2014.

Hannover Re said that competition in property/casualty reinsurance was “intense.”

The reinsurer's combined ratio for property/casualty reinsurance during the first quarter was 95.7%, compared with 94.4% for the first quarter of 2014.

Hannover Re said major losses during the first quarter, including losses from Windstorm Niklas that affected many areas of Europe; and the crash of the Germanwings passenger plane in the French Alps, which cost it about €62.0 million ($66.6 million).

For life and health reinsurance, Hannover Re posted net income of €127.5 million ($136.9 million) for the first quarter of 2015, a 193.8% increase over the first quarter of 2014.

Overall, Hannover Re's gross written premium was €4.40 billion ($46.6 million) for the first quarter of 2015, up 21.6% on the comparable period last year.

“Premium growth was much stronger than expected, which shows that Hannover Re is still able to find profitable business,” said Andreas Schaefer, an analyst at Bielefeld, Germany-based bank Bankhaus Lampe K.G., said in a note to investors.

The reinsurer's investment income was €415.7 million ($446.3 million) for the first three months of 2015, a 15.1% increase over the first quarter of 2014.

Hannover Re said this was affected, in part, by the strength of the U.S. dollar against other currencies including the euro.