The specialist insurer, Hiscox, claims it has kept some powder dry during the first three months of 2012, after reporting lower income from premiums for the quarter.
Total gross written premiums up to the end of March were £450.7m against the £453.5m seen at the same point of 2011 but Hiscox says it withheld some insurance capacity in the first quarter "anticipating better rates and terms later in the year".
The Bermuda-based firm says it has seen growth from its UK (+3.4%) and Europe (+7.5%) businesses but operations in Bermuda (-14.1%) and Guernsey (-9%) have been lower. The group's London Market operation dropped 0.9% on the prior year to hit £180.7m, while the business in the USA grew 23.6% to £30.4m.
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Rates in reinsurance and catastrophe exposed lines, such as US property, continue to improve, says Hiscox, noting rates to insure against earthquakes in Japan have doubled since the Tohoku earthquake and tsunami of March 2011.
The investment portfolio achieved growth of 1.3% for the quarter, with invested assets reaching £2.9bn by the end of March ; Hiscox, however, believes investment returns will remain "relatively depressed" as the US Federal Reserve and the Bank of England keep interests rates low.
Bronek Masojada, Hiscox's Chief Executive, commented: "The year has started well with good growth in retail lines, a strong investment return and the reinsurance renewals in April beating our expectations."
Since the beginning of 2012 Hiscox shares have risen 6.24%.
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