Ireland popped up as an unexpected bright spot in the interim management statement of insurance behemoth RSA, which appears to be firing on all cylinders.
Net written premiums rose by 11% from the year before to £6.1bn in the third quarter, with all regions said to be delivering good growth. Canada and Ireland, however, were singled out as especially strong performers, supported by acquisitions made by year.
International net written premiums rose 13%, or 9% on a constant exchange rates (CER) basis, from a year earlier to £2,992m, while UK net written premiums were up 7% to £2,318m.
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"For the full year, we remain confident of delivering around 10% premium growth in International, targeted growth in the UK and double digit growth in Emerging Markets," the company said.
Net written premiums in Emerging Markets rose 17% in the third quarter to £800m.
Net asset value per share, including the pension scheme deficit, dipped to 101p compared with 106p at the end of June, with profits for the period offset by exchange losses, the interim dividend and the increase in the pension scheme deficit due to a movement in actuarial assumptions.
As at 2 November 2011, net asset value per share including the pension scheme deficit is estimated to have increased to 106p, driven by retained profits, foreign exchange gains and a reduction in the pension scheme deficit.
In the second half of the year the world has seen a continuation of the abnormally high number of catastrophic events, with adverse weather in Denmark, Ireland and Thailand expected to cost the group around £60m.
As it stands today and assuming normal levels of weather losses in the remainder of the year, we continue to expect to deliver for the full year 2011 a COR [combined operating ratio] of better than 95%, investment income of between £560m and £570m and total gains of around £120m," the company said.
The COR essentially measures how much the company pays out in claims versus money taken in.
The investment portfolio at the end of September stood at a cool £14.4bn, marginally down from the end-June total, with foreign exchange losses partially mitigated by so-called mark to market gains, where the company assigns a value to its assets based on what it thinks it could realise through a sale.
The group has 89% of its funds tied up in high quality fixed income assets and cash. Its exposure to peripheral European government debt - usually taken to mean Greece, Spain, Portugal and Ireland - is limited at £146m, or 1% of the total portfolio. The majority of this exposure is held to back the liabilities of RSA's Irish and Italian operations.
"We have continued to build momentum and drive growth across the business while maintaining a strong financial position. Premiums have grown by 11% reflecting targeted organic initiatives, rate and the benefits of our 2010 deals," said Simon Lee, the group's relatively new chief executive officer.
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