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Liberty Mutual Q4 net income jumps 21.5%

Liberty Mutual earnings

Liberty Mutual Holding Co. Inc. said Tuesday that net income for the fourth quarter of 2018 was $249 million, up 21.5% over the same period in 2017.

Net written premium for the quarter was $9.41 billion, up 6.2% over a year ago. The combined ratio for the quarter was 100.4%, relatively unchanged from the prior year fourth quarter.

“All in all, we had an OK fourth quarter, which rounded out a strong year. Following the sizable catastrophe losses in 2017, we produced solid earnings and further strengthened our capital position,” David H. Long, chairman and CEO, said in a Wednesday morning earnings call with analysts.

“Looking to 2019, we plan to continue this positive momentum focusing on improving operating results,” Mr. Long said on the call, particularly within the company’s North American commercial and specialty business.

Net income for full-year 2018 was $2.2 billion, despite another year of above-average catastrophe losses, Mr. Long said in a company statement.

“The combined ratio for the full year improved 6.4 points to 99.2% and our investment portfolio again delivered strong results,” Mr. Long said in the statement.

For the year, the mutual insurer reported net written premiums of $39.1 billion for 2018.

“Premium growth was strong at 6.3% for the year as market conditions improved domestically and international growth remained robust at 13.1%,” Mr. Long said in a statement.

The mutual insurer’s improvement in fourth-quarter net income was partly offset by $139 million in fourth-quarter net realized losses and higher quarterly net catastrophe losses, including about $260 million in losses from Hurricane Michael and $300 million from the California wildfires, Mr. Long said during the call.

Net written premium for the company’s global retail markets business was $6.6 billion for the fourth quarter, up 2.9% from the prior year fourth quarter.

“While all market segments contributed to this growth, the U.S. was the largest component primarily driven by rate,” Mr. Long said during the call.

In U.S. personal lines, private passenger auto rate was up 6.5% in the quarter and homeowners rate was up 3.8%. Within U.S. business lines, rate was up 6.3%, Mr. Long said.

The quarterly combined ratio for global retail business was 93.3%, an improvement from 103.6% in the prior year quarter.

Net written premium for Liberty Mutual’s global risk business, which includes specialty and reinsurance lines, was $2.8 billion for the fourth quarter, up 11.7% from the prior year fourth quarter.

“The majority of this growth has come from favorable rate and new business within specialty insurance and reinsurance, which grew at 15.4% and 17.6%, respectively,” Mr. Long said during the call.

Rates were positive across just about all lines of business, with the exception of workers compensation, Mr. Long said.

The quarterly combined ratio for the global risk business was 111.7%, up from 105.8% a year ago, driven largely by higher catastrophe losses due to Hurricane Michael, he said.

The company is pushing hard for rate increases across all specialty lines, especially in casualty and property lines of business, Mr. Long said. The company is also aggressively pushing rate in property in 2019 and rewriting the property book.












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