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Property/casualty insurers and reinsurers saw improved underwriting results and a respite from catastrophe losses during the first half of 2018, according to a report from Fitch Ratings Inc. released Tuesday.
Underwriting results were “strong” as the combined ratio improved 2.0 points to 94.5% for Fitch’s group of insurers and reinsurers, according to the report, North American Property/Casualty Midyear Results.
“The drop in catastrophe losses was a particular breath of fresh air after both P/C insurers and reinsurers endured harsh losses following the major storms of last year,” Fitch said in a statement issued with the report.
Reinsurers especially benefitted from the light catastrophe activity in the first half of the year, “as most of the industry event losses during the period were not large enough to hit catastrophe reinsurance programs,” the report said.
American International Group Inc. had the only combined ratio over 100% in the first half of the year, “in part due to higher property losses reported in both the company’s North American and International segments,” the report said.
Earnings benefitted from U.S. tax cuts as the group’s overall effective tax rate fell to 17.4% in the first half of 2018 compared with 24.5% in the year-ago period, the report said.
Investment income, however, was flat, with the first half showing an annualized investment yield of 3.1%, equal to that for all of 2017, the report said.
Aggregate net written premiums increased 9.3% in the first half of 2018 over the year-ago period, excluding the impact of Berkshire Hathaway Inc.’s retroactive reinsurance agreement with AIG that occurred then, with double-digit increases in the personal, Florida specialist and reinsurer segments.
“There was considerable growth in net written premiums during the first six months of 2018,” the statement said.
Fitch Ratings compiled financial results for 50 organizations that are publicly traded or report GAAP consolidated results, the report said.
A survey of 20 property/casualty insurers, reinsurers and brokers showed strong 2018 first-quarter organic growth and investment income, although some players may seek mergers and acquisitions due to smaller-than-expected increases after last year’s historic catastrophe losses, Morgan Stanley said Friday.