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CNA swings to loss in 2015 fourth quarter

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Driven by lower results in its property/casualty operations and a charge to its long-term care business, CNA Financial Corp. on Monday reported a $70 million net loss for the fourth quarter of 2015 vs. $198 million in net income for the comparable period a year ago.

CNA's property/casualty operations' net income was $176 million for the fourth quarter, a 45.3% decline from $322 million in the prior-year quarter.

In addition, the Chicago-based insurer's life and group noncore segment included a $198 million after-tax charge related to recognition of a premium deficiency and a small deficiency in claims reserves in its long-term care business, the company said in its statement.

In its property/casualty operations, net premiums written for the quarter increased 1.9% from the prior year quarter, to $1.59 billion, said the company. It reported a 98.9% combined ratio, vs. 91.8% for the prior year quarter.

For the full 2015 year, the company reported $479 million in net income, a 30.7% decrease from 2014.

The property/casualty operation's net income was $914 million, an 11.3% decrease. Net premiums written decreased 1.8%, to $6.42 billion, while the combined ratio was 95.4%, vs. 97.7% for the prior year.

“Our capital position remains very strong” and property/casualty income “continues to remain stable,” said Chairman and CEO Thomas F. Motamed during CNA's earnings call Monday.

Mr. Motamed said the insurer's 95.4% combined ratio for 2015 “is the lowest it has been for five years, specialty continues to be a profitable and resilient business in a challenging environment,” and CNA's commercial segment “continues to show improvement in the underlying loss ratio.”

CNA's commercial segment, which works with an independent agency distribution system and a network of brokers, had a 101.5% combined ratio, including a 65.1% expense ratio, in 2015 vs. a 109.3% combined, including a 75.3% expense ratio, in 2014.

“We continue to invest in people, technology, processes and tools for the future,” Mr. Motamed added.