Belfast Telegraph

Hiscox delivers jump in profits after navigating series of disasters in 2017

The insurance company capitalised on a rise in premiums following a string of catastrophes last year.

Insurance firm Hiscox has unveiled a jump in profits after it navigated eye-watering costs stemming from multiple natural disasters in 2017.

For the six months ended June 30, Hiscox’s profit before tax was 163.6 million US dollars (£124.8 million), up 27% year on year from 129.1 million US dollars (£98.5 million).

Gross written premiums rose to 2.2 billion US dollars (£1.7 billion) from 1.8 billion US dollars (£1.4 billion) during the same period last year, an increase of 21%.

Hiscox’s shares responded positively to the news, rising 8%, or 119p, to 1,592p.

Hiscox chief executive Bronek Masojada said: “It has been a good start to the year.

“Our investment across the business is driving strong profitable growth in all segments. We are on track to exceed one million retail customers in 2018.”

Hiscox’s profits plunged last year as the industry grappled with a hefty bill from a series of natural disasters.

Pre-tax profits crashed 91% to £30.8 million for the year ending in December, as the group’s performance was blighted by US and Caribbean hurricanes, earthquakes in Mexico, and California wildfires.

Hiscox chief executive Bronek Masojada (Suki Dhanda/Hiscox/PA)

The specialist insurer set aside 225 million US dollars (£160.2 million) to cover losses from the disasters, which cost the wider industry 140 billion US dollars (£100 billion).

Hiscox warned, however, that the rest of the year could yet throw up a surprise for the company.

Chairman Robert Childs said: “It was pleasing to see the business move quickly to capitalise on higher rates following the natural catastrophes of last year, and we will now maintain our underwriting discipline as rates in big-ticket lines flatten.

“It has been a good start to the year, but hurricanes can blow us off course in the second half.”

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