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Berkley reports 50% decline in profit in Q1


W.R. Berkley Corp., which had a significant increase in catastrophe losses, reported a 50.2% decrease in net income for the first quarter, to $294.1 million.

The Greenwich, Connecticut-based insurer posted a 6.7% increase in net premiums written, to $2.57 billion.

The combined ratio for the quarter worsened to 90.6% vs. 87.8% for 2022’s first quarter.

This year’s first-quarter results reflected a 66% increase in current accident year losses from catastrophes, including COVID-19-related losses, to $47.9 million.

The combined ratio reflected the $47.9 million and prior year development, principally from property cat losses, of about $24 million, the company reported.

“The company is off to a strong start with the first quarter of 2023, despite the significant catastrophe losses facing the industry,” President and CEO Rob Berkley said during the quarterly analysts earnings call. 

“Winter storms impacted both the current quarter and carried over from late loss activity in the fourth quarter of last year,” he said.

Property is in the early stages of firming, Mr. Berkley said. Momentum is increasing to the point where there was “meaningful traction as far as rate goes” by April, he said. 

Directors and officers liability, particularly for large accounts, “continues to be in a state of freefall,” in terms of rate adequacy and pricing “and it’s concerning to us.”

Hospital professional liability is another product line that is “in desperate need of some discipline.”

Workers comp “clearly continues to bounce along the bottom,” although “there is some evidence” that California, which has lagged the rest of the market insofar as where it stood in the cycle, “is actually ahead of the rest of the market” in showing signs of rate firming.