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Berkley reports 161% jump in profits

Posted On: Jan. 26, 2021 6:34 PM CST


W.R. Berkley Corp. on Tuesday reported a 161.6% increase in net income, to $312.2 million, in the fourth quarter of 2020.

The Greenwich, Connecticut-based insurer posted an 8.2% increase in net premiums written for the quarter, to $1.8 billion.

The combined ratio improved to 90.9% vs. 93.3% for the comparable period in 2019.

For the year, Berkley reported a 22.2% decline in net income, to $530.7 million. Net premiums increased 5.8%, to $7.26 billion. The combined ratio was 94.9%, compared with 93.8% for 2019.

Richard M. Baio, executive vice president, chief financial officer and treasurer, said during a conference call with analysts after the stock markets’ closing Tuesday that rate improvement and lower claims frequency contributed to underwriting income, which was offset by higher catastrophe losses from natural catastrophes and pandemic-related losses.

Rob Berkley, president and CEO, said that “the market is clearly in the throes of firming.”

Compared to the 1980s hard market, “there is not a vacuum when it comes to capacity, but clearly there is recognition within the industry amongst carriers that capacity is not going to be doled out” as casually as it has been in the past and more rate increases are appropriate.

Many markets, he said, “have a good deal for catching up to do.” Mr. Berkley said there have been moments the insurer has felt “a little bit lonely when we’ve been pushing for rates.”

More insurance and risk management news on the coronavirus crisis here.