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PartnerRe, Aspen cite catastrophes for 2011 losses


PEMBROKE, Bermuda—Last year's record catastrophe toll on reinsurers continues to unfold, with two Bermuda-based underwriters reporting losses for 2011.

Pembroke, Bermuda-based PartnerRe Ltd. on Monday reported a $520.3 million net loss for 2011, including a net loss of $17.6 million for the fourth quarter. That compares with $852.6 million in net income for 2010, including net income of $57 million in fourth-quarter net income.

PartnerRe's gross written premiums for the year declined 5.3% to $4.63 billion. Fourth-quarter gross written premiums grew 8.6% to $898 million.

For the full year, the combined ratio for nonlife operations was 125.4% compared with 95.0% a year earlier. That included 45.3 points related to 2011 catastrophes.

PartnerRe estimated its total catastrophe-related losses for the year at $1.79 billion pretax and net of reinstatements, reinsurance and commission adjustments. PartnerRe's fourth-quarter nonlife combined ratio was 121.7%. compared with 94.6% for the same period a year earlier.

“2011 was a very challenging year,” PartnerRe President and CEO Costas Miranthis said in a statement. “The industry experienced a number of significant catastrophe events during the year, and as a leading global catastrophe reinsurer, we were impacted by these events. While the 2011 catastrophic events resulted in a significant operating loss for PartnerRe,” its capital base in excess of $7 billion allowed it to withstand the cat losses and position the company as the reinsurance market improves.

“During the Jan. 1 renewals, we saw encouraging signs in most of our business lines,” Mr. Miranthis said. “Chronic premium rate erosion appears to have been halted nearly everywhere, and risk-adjusted premium rates increased in several areas.”

Meanwhile, Hamilton, Bermuda-based Aspen Insurance Holdings Ltd. reported a net aftertax loss of $105.8 million for 2011 on Monday. That was despite fourth-quarter net aftertax gain of $13.5 million.

Aspen reported a 6.3% increase in gross written premiums, which increased to $2.21 billion. The company recorded a $294.7 million underwriting loss for 2011 compared with an underwriting profit of $63.1 million in 2010.

“The combined ratio for 2011 was 115.6%, including $534.3 million (or 28.5 percentage points of net losses, net of reinstatements) from the significant natural catastrophe losses occurring in 2011 compared with 96.7% for 2010, which included 9.0 percentage points of net losses from catastrophes,” Aspen said in a statement.

Gross written premiums for the fourth quarter increased 11.1% to $458.7 million. Aspen’s combined ratio for the quarter deteriorated to 114.1%, or 89.2% excluding catastrophe losses, compared with 95.3%, or 88.3% excluding catastrophe losses, for the fourth quarter of 2010.

“Whilst the performance of our catastrophe-exposed reinsurance lines has been impacted by the near-record year for natural catastrophes, both our casualty and specialty reinsurance units generated good results in a challenging environment,” Aspen CEO Chris O’Kane said in a statement.

“In our insurance segment our loss ratios were good to excellent in most classes. The recent January renewals saw attractive rate increases in certain property catastrophe reinsurance lines and encouraging signs in many commercial insurance lines,” he said.

Aspen’s capital base is strong and diversified, leaving “us well-positioned to benefit from the improving pricing trend and the investment we have made in our franchise,” Mr. O’Kane said.