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Lancashire's profit hit by fall in gross premiums


(Reuters) — British property and casualty insurer Lancashire Holdings Ltd. reported a 24.2% fall in full-year pretax profit on Thursday, hurt by a fall in gross written premiums in its property and energy businesses.

The company also said Chairman Martin Thomas would step down in May after about nine years at the helm. He will be replaced by director Peter Clarke.

Lancashire, which insures heavy-duty assets such as oil rigs, ships and aircraft, said its pretax profit fell to $171.7 million in 2015 from $226.5 million a year earlier.

Gross written premiums fell 29.4% to $641.1 million, notably in the property and energy businesses, where a number of multi-year deals written in 2014 were up for renewal.

In the energy sector, gross premiums written fell 53.2% to $112 million.

The business was also hurt by pricing pressure and falling oil prices, Lancashire said. Oil prices have fallen about 70% in the last 18 months.

Gross written premiums for property insurance fell 25% to $197.2 million.

Lancashire said it had a combined ratio of 72.1 percent in 2015, compared with 68.7 percent in 2014.

The ratio is the sum of incurred losses and expenses divided by earned premiums. A ratio below 100 percent means an insurer earns more in premiums than it pays out in claims.