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Hartford Financial Services Group Inc.’s profits more than doubled in the fourth quarter of 2019 compared with 2018, due in part to lower current accident-year catastrophes, according to a statement released Monday.
The insurer reported fourth quarter net income of $548 million, up from $196 million reported in the fourth quarter of 2018. Overall 2019 net income was $2.1 billion, up 31% from 2018, according to the statement, which highlighted that results include that of Navigators Group Inc., which Hartford acquired in early 2019.
In a conference call Tuesday, Hartford Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Christopher Swift called 2019 a “pivotal year” for the insurer, adding “we set ambitious goals and delivered on strategic objectives while achieving strong financial results.”
Mr. Swift praised the integration of business with the acquisition of Navigators, which enhanced operations and added “leverage all the capabilities of the Hartford platform.”
Property/casualty underwriting income improved 36% and the investment portfolio continued to perform well, according to Mr. Swift.
Highlighted in the earning statement for property/casualty are 2019 written premiums of $11.6 billion, an increase of 11% over 2018 “primarily due to the acquisition of Navigators” and “organic growth” in commercial lines, partially offset by a decline in personal lines,” according to the statement.
In Hartford’s commercial lines business, written premiums of $8.5 billion increased 18% over 2018, including the premium from Navigators. Excluding Navigators, written premiums increased 4%, according to the statement.
In fourth quarter 2019, the combined ratio for commercial lines deteriorated to 98.2%, compared with 90.7% in fourth quarter 2018. The year included several large losses including an explosion at a Texas oil refinery and a tornado in Florida, according to the statement.
Still, the company’s leaders on Tuesday said the results and outlook were pleasing.
“I am very encouraged by the pricing momentum in both our middle and large commercial lines and global specialty markets,” said Hartford President Doug Elliot. “We are well positioned to deliver profitable growth in the improving pricing market."
Mr. Swift said he expects continued growth in 2020: “Entering 2020, we remain focused on execution and integration of our recent acquisitions.”
Navigators Group Inc. President and CEO Stanley A. Galanski will step aside upon the close of Hartford Financial Services Group Inc.’s $2.1 billion acquisition of the specialty insurer, Hartford said Monday.