February 13, 2020 / 7:45 AM / 6 days ago

UPDATE 1-Insurer Lancashire's annual profit jumps on higher rates

(Adds CEO quote, dividend, background on prices)

Feb 13 (Reuters) - Property and casualty underwriter Lancashire Holdings on Thursday reported earnings for the whole of 2019 that almost quadrupled from a year earlier, helped by a rise in insurance prices in the property market.

The pick-up in rates offered respite to insurers, who had weathered a difficult 2018 in terms of claims due to a string of natural catastrophes.

“Our results reflect the measured pricing improvement that we have witnessed during the course of the year,” Chief Executive Officer Alex Maloney said.

“We are still of the belief that further pricing improvement is needed in many lines of business before the market returns to a more sustainable environment.”

The Lloyd’s of London insurer, which writes policies for assets such as oil rigs, ships and aircraft, said its profit leapt to $119.5 million for the year ended Dec. 31, from $33.6 million a year earlier.

The combined ratio — considered the main gauge of an insurer’s profitability — came in at 80.9% from 92.2% in 2018. A level below 100% indicates that premiums earned exceeded claims.

Lancashire said net losses related to the Hurricane Dorian and Typhoons Faxai and Hagibis were $52.1 million in 2019.

The company set a dividend per share of $0.15 for the year versus $0.35 it paid in 2018. (Reporting by Muvija M in Bengaluru, Editing by Sherry Jacob-Phillips and Shounak Dasgupta)

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