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Axis books $73m loss as catastrophes take toll

Disaster losses: wildfires in California were one of the drivers of Axis’s catatrophe losses (File photograph)

Axis Capital Holdings announced a net loss of $73 million for the third quarter as catastrophe losses took a heavy toll.

The Bermudian-based re/insurer said estimated net pre-tax catastrophe and weather-related losses totalled $240 million.

Hurricanes Laura and Sally, the Midwest derecho, wildfires in the western United States, the Beirut port explosion and other weather-related events drove the losses. Axis’s insurance segment took a $132 million hit, while the reinsurance business took $108 million of the losses.

Albert Benchimol, Axis’s chief executive officer said the company’s underlying performance had improved and that the insurance segment had benefited from double-digit rate rises during the quarter.

“This was a quarter in which the world and our industry were impacted by exceptional levels of cat loss activity,” Mr Benchimol said. “First and foremost, our thoughts are with the people and communities that were directly affected by these events, and we’re committed to providing our customers with top calibre claims service as we help to support their rebuilding efforts.

"The losses that we experienced during the quarter were consistent with our reduced catastrophe exposure, reflecting the changes that we’ve made in recent years to reposition our portfolio. We continue to see positive trends in our underlying performance, highlighted by a year-over-year improvement of 5.2 points to our current accident year combined ratio ex-cat and weather this quarter, bringing the year-to-date reduction to 4.5 points.

"This is encouraging progress and we look to the future with great optimism. Axis is well positioned in its chosen markets, we have excellent relationships with our producers, and we’re seeing strong pricing momentum, highlighted by a 16 per cent rate increase during the quarter in our insurance segment.“

Book value per diluted common share fell by 34 cents, or 0.6 per cent, to $54.75 during the quarter, but adjusted for dividends book value rose by seven cents.

Axis recorded a net loss of $146 million for the first nine months of the year, compared to net income of $292 million for the same period in 2019.

Axis added that there was no change to its $235 million estimate for first-party losses related to Covid-19 that th company made in the first quarter of this year.

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Published October 28, 2020 at 7:14 pm (Updated October 28, 2020 at 7:15 pm)

Axis books $73m loss as catastrophes take toll

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