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Hiscox sees gross premiums grow 10%

Bronek Masojada, Hiscox CEO

Hiscox Ltd, the international specialist insurer, saw its gross written premiums grow 10 per cent to £640.5 million ($924.5 million) in the first quarter.

The improvement was driven by strong performances in all segments of its business, the company reported.

“We’ve had a very good start to the year. Our retail businesses continue to do well, growing in both broker and direct-to-consumer channels. We are navigating more difficult markets in bigger ticket lines; retreating where competition is eroding margins and growing where we see opportunity,” said Bronek Masojada, chief executive officer.

Hiscox Re reported gross written premiums improving to $279.2 million from $240.2 million for the same period last year. The company noted growth in casualty and speciality business including cyber, terrorism and business written on behalf of its ILS unit Kiskadee Investment Managers. Kiskadee is said to be on track to have $1 billion of assets under management this year.

As has been the case with other insurers and reinsurers, Hiscox said a combination of a lack of major loss events, excess industry capital and increased competition continue to put pressure on rates.

During the January renewals there were single-digit rate reductions. The company said it was finding opportunity in non-catastrophe exposed lines, such as casualty and speciality reinsurance.

Hiscox’s London Market segment saw gross written premiums grow 5 per cent to £157.1 million ($226.7 million). The company reported rate pressures were most severe in the aviations, marine and energy, terrorism and US large property lines.

“We are growing in areas where rates are under less pressure such as casualty, auto extended warranty and small property binder business, and in our new product lines — cargo, product recall and US general liability,” the company said in a statement.

Rate reductions were less marked across the company’s retail business. Hiscox Retail managed a 10 per cent increase in gross written premiums.

In terms of claims, the first quarter has been a benign period, and the group is expecting minimal impact from the earthquakes in Japan and Ecuador, meanwhile it is expecting the Alberta wildfires to be a manageable loss for the group, although that is still an early assessment.

The group’s investments were up 0.5 per cent of the quarter. Hiscox’s invested assets at the end of March totalled $3.7 billion.