* UK profit 35 mln eur vs 24.7 mln expected
* Combined ratio 97.9 percent
(Adds detail, background)
BRUSSELS Nov 7 Belgium-based insurer Ageas
earned more than expected in the third quarter, helped
by its operations in Britain, where it is building up its car
and house insurance business.
Ageas is traditionally a life assurance specialist, and the
result backs up its policy announced in September to pivot its
operations towards non-life insurance, which includes policies
for cars and houses.
The company, which became Britain's fifth-largest non-life
insurer after it bought Groupama's British non-life business in
September and is also Belgium's biggest insurance company, said
on Wednesday third-quarter profit from its insurance operations
was 147.1 million euros ($188.31 million).
That beat 141 million euros expected on average by six banks
and brokerages polled by Reuters.
In Britain its insurance profit was 35 million euros, above
24.7 million euros expected in the poll, where strong growth in
car insurance offset lower premiums in house and travel
It said its overall combined ratio - a key profitability
measure in insurance where costs plus claims are expressed as a
percentage of revenues - fell to 97.9 percent from 100.2 in the
same period last year.
A result below 100 means an insurance company is making an
"The combined ratio of 97.9 percent reflects the pro-active
measures we have taken in the past," said Chief Executive Bart
De Smet in a statement.
Ageas plans to keep its combined ratio structurally below
100 percent from now on.
By 2015 the life assurance specialist is planning to raise
the proportion of its portfolio in non-life insurance to 40
percent to mitigate the effect of low interest rates and
Its profit in the first nine months of 2012 was split 65
percent for life and 32 percent for non-life.
(Reporting by Ben Deighton; Editing by Louise Heavens)