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Hannover remains bullish about nonlife terms


HANOVER, Germany&;151;Talk of a rapidly softening global reinsurance market is misplaced according to German reinsurer Hannover Re Group.

The Hanover-based company Friday reported an overall operating profit of €467.7 million for the second quarter of this year compared with €403.9 million, an increase of 15.8%.

The non-life business was hit by the sale of the group's U.S. specialty business, that meant gross premiums booked were down 10.4% on last year to €4 billion.This was offset, however, by a significant increase in the level of business retained up to 85.8% from 77%. Overall therefore net premium rose by 1.9% to €3.7 billion. Nonlife net premiums fell by 7.3% to €2.3 billion.

Hannover's chief executive Wilhelm Zeller said that the nonlife market remains in rude health, despite recent pressure and rising catastrophe losses.

"The state of the market in nonlife reinsurance, the largest business group, remains favorable after eight consecutive years of rate increases. The June/July treaty renewals in the United States passed off better than expected. Although modest rate deterioration was observed in property business, the price level is still adequate. In property catastrophe business prices largely remained on a high level; only in some subsegments were slight reductions in rates recorded. All in all, the business prospects in nonlife reinsurance are most promising," he said.

The total net burden of catastrophe losses and major claims for the second quarter totaled €46.3 million and the figure for the first half-year reached €214.5 million, said the company. This represented 9.2% of net premium in non-life reinsurance and the combined ratio stood at 101.9% this quarter compared with 99.4% for last year.