April 30, 2020 / 6:32 AM / a month ago

Insurer Lancashire weathers COVID-19 storm in first quarter

(Reuters) - Lancashire Holdings Ltd (LRE.L) on Thursday reaffirmed its 2019 final dividend payout, underscoring the property and casualty insurer’s lack of exposure to travel and other businesses that are most hit by the coronavirus crisis.

Lancashire, which insures everything from ships and aircraft to damages from terrorism and war, said its investment portfolio saw a quarterly loss of 1.9% amid the broader market sell-off.

Insurers are only just beginning to report on one of the most dramatic quarters in stock market history, but the investment loss compares to double digit percentage falls at a raft of investment funds, which tend to invest more aggressively.

“The Group has more than adequate liquidity and solvency headroom, and (the) management will continue to monitor and regularly review the longer-term impact of the COVID-19 pandemic,” the company said in a statement.

Gross written premiums rose 11.8% to $242.8 million in the quarter ended March 31, the insurer said, adding that it estimates $35 million of COVID-19 claims for the quarter, including the impact of reinsurance and reinstatement premiums.

Lancashire is part of the Lloyd’s of London market, a group of 99 syndicates, who price and underwrite policies and spread risks — including anything from ships to sculptures to soccer stars’ legs — among themselves.

The company’s stable first-quarter performance comes after the insurer reported 2019 earnings that almost quadrupled from a year earlier, helped by a rise in insurance prices in the property market.

Reporting by Aby Jose Koilparambil in Bengaluru; editing by Uttaresh.V

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