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Insurer Hiscox eyes higher prices as premiums slip

Posted On: Nov. 7, 2011 12:00 AM CST

LONDON (Reuters)—Hiscox Ltd., one of many insurers around the world to have been hit by a wave of claims from natural disasters this year, reported a dip in insurance sales for the nine months to end-September although it hoped to benefit from rising insurance prices next year.

Hiscox said its gross written premiums had fallen 3% from a year ago to £1.17 billion ($1.88 billion), which partly reflected its decision not to take on certain high-risk contracts.

In August, Hiscox had posted a bigger-than-expected interim pretax loss of £85.6 million ($137.3 million) as catastrophe claims nearly doubled due to the Japanese earthquake earlier this year and other disasters.

"Hiscox is in good shape. Our strategy of balance and diversity gives us options in challenging times and the strength of our U.K. business is proof of this," Chief Executive Bronek Masojada said in a statement.

"Although the wider market is slow to turn, the cumulative effect of international catastrophes is pushing reinsurance rates upwards. As nearly a third of our income comes from reinsurance, we are ready to benefit at the January renewal season," he added.