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Insurer Beazley's Q1 buoyed by specialty lines

[LONDON] Lloyd's of London insurer Beazley Plc reported a rise in first-quarter gross written premiums on Thursday, helped by strong growth in its specialty lines.

The underwriter's gross written premiums rose 7 per cent to US$583 million in the quarter ended March 31 with its largest division, specialty lines, reporting a 15 per cent increase to US$261 million.

The insurer's US specialty lines business caters for the professional liability and management liability needs of small and mid-sized organisations.

Beazley, which provides marine, casualty and property insurance and reinsurance, also said claims notifications in the first quarter were "encouraging" and it expected its first-half combined ratio to be better than average if the trend continues.

Shares in the company were up 1.8 per cent at 335.5 pence at 0803 GMT on Thursday on the London Stock Exchange.

Gross written premiums for marine insurance fell 7 per cent during the period, while life, accident and health jumped 33 per cent to US$48 million.

Premium rates on renewal fell one percent during the period, the insurer said, adding that the rating environment remained highly competitive, mainly for large risk and catastrophe exposed lines of business.

J.P Morgan Cazenove analyst Edward Morris said this was a strong result for Beazley against the current backdrop, with a 2 per cent premium renewal rate increase for specialty lines helping to offset continued declines in other areas.

Over the past few years, insurance rates have either stagnated or fallen due to fierce competition.

REUTERS