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CNA second-quarter profit edges up; specialty strategy continues

Increased profit

CNA Financial Corp. on Monday reported a second-quarter 2019 profit of $278 million, up 3% over the same period last year as the insurer continued its strategy of greater specialization.

CNA, which is a unit of Loews Corp., reported second-quarter net written premium in its property/casualty operations of $1.87 billion, a 5.9% increase over the same period in 2018. CNA’s combined ratio worsened to 95.7% from 93.8% in the 2018 period as catastrophe losses increased.

Commercial net written premiums increased to $912 million in the 2019 second quarter, up 12.6% compared with last year, specialty increased 3.6% to $713 million, and international fell 8.1% to $249 million.

CNA continued to see insurance rate increases in the second quarter of 2019 with average property/casualty rates increasing 4%, Dino E. Robusto, the insurer’s chairman and CEO, said on a conference call with analysts.

“Pricing continues to migrate from being a headwind to now a tail wind,” and terms and conditions are also improving beyond pricing, he said.

For example, larger deductibles are being imposed for catastrophe exposures for large property accounts, and medical professional liability deductible are also increasing, “and we are successfully tightening coverage language in tougher judicial jurisdictions,” Mr. Robusto said.

CNA also continued its drive to target specialty areas, which Mr. Robusto said he implemented when he took on the top position at the insurer in 2016.

“We are not interested in being all things to all businesses as a general and commercial insurer,” he said. CNA has built up its specialty unit over the past couple of years, deemphasized some areas of its international business and will look to specialize more in its commercial unit, Mr. Robusto said.

CNA has recruited various executives and strengthened relationships with some agents and brokers in its commercial unit, for example, in its construction business, middle market business, marine, small business and property/casualty national accounts, he said.

For the first half of 2019, CNA reported a profit of $620 million, up 10.5% over the same period last year, and property/casualty net written premium of $3.68 billion, up 2.7%.


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