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Bermuda-based specialty insurer Hiscox Ltd. on Monday reported full-year pretax profit of £354.5 million ($440.4 million) for 2016, up 64% from the previous year, bolstered by good investment returns and a favorable foreign exchange gain.
Gross premiums written increased 23.6% to £2.40 billion ($2.98 billion). The combined ratio improved to 84.4% for the year, vs. 85% in 2015.
“This is a good result, flattered by foreign exchange and boosted by a strong investment return,” CEO Bronek Masojada said in a statement. “Our retail business has come of age, driving growth and profitability for the group.”
In the chief executive’s report, Mr. Masojada said the Hiscox USA unit’s “outstanding momentum has not stopped,” growing 30% in constant currency to £400 million ($496.9 million), compared with £280.7 million ($348.7 million) a year ago.
“Our broker business and direct and partnerships division have both performed well, with key contributors being our professional liability and cyber lines,” Mr. Masojada said. “The general liability account is also now established.”
“We remain very optimistic about our ability to grow profitably in the U.S. market,” Mr. Masojada said, citing cyber risk coverage in particular.
Mr. Masojada said Hiscox’s London market results were good, but masked ongoing soft-market challenges with pricing pressure in most lines. The segment posted a profit of £44 million ($54.6 million), down 19.4% from 2015.
“Our investment in new teams has offset the decline in some established lines. We expect the soft market conditions to continue in 2017, and that particularly tortured London Market lines will shrink,” Mr. Masojada said.
The company’s most mature retail operation, Hiscox UK and Ireland, increased gross written premiums by 12.5% to £498.6 million ($619.4 million), with every region contributing, according to the insurer’s report.
XL Group Ltd. reported a higher profit for the fourth quarter of 2016 but a significantly lower profit for the full year as losses and loss expenses increased.