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Zurich reports 9.9% profit gain despite catastrophe losses


ZURICH—Zurich Financial Services Group Ltd. said Thursday that its 2011 net income increased 9.9% over that of a year earlier to reach $3.77 billion.

The Swiss-based insurer reported 2011 gross written premiums in its general insurance operations of $34.58 billion, an increase of 4.6% from those registered in 2010. The sector's combined ratio deteriorated slightly to 98.8% in 2011 from the 97.9% posted a year earlier.

For the fourth quarter, Zurich's net income fell 45.9% to $557 million. Gross written premiums remained virtually flat at $7.53 billion.

“We delivered a good result in a year characterized by natural catastrophes, including devastating earthquakes in Japan and New Zealand, as well as exceptional weather-related losses around the globe,” Zurich CEO Martin Senn said in a statement. “This trend continued during the fourth quarter with flooding in Thailand and aftershocks in New Zealand.”

Despite challenging economic and market conditions, “we maintained our focus on underwriting discipline while continuing to selectively grow the business,” he said.

Zurich released its results one day after announcing that its board will recommend changing the company's name to Zurich Insurance Group Ltd. to reflect the company's strategic focus on insurance.

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