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WR Berkley forecasts rate gains after tough quarter

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US insurer WR Berkley recorded a weaker fourth quarter amid catastrophes and “turbulent” securities markets, but says an improvement in rates is likely to continue.

Fourth-quarter net income fell 14% to $US132.4 million ($186.7 million) while gross written premium (GWP) increased 3.8% to $US1.85 billion ($2.61 billion).

The company says it continues to grow where it can achieve targeted returns, while pulling back from less attractive opportunities.

“Rate improvement for most lines of business is likely to continue for the foreseeable future, and we expect further gradual progress in reducing our expense ratio [this year],” it said.

The combined operating ratio for the quarter deteriorated to 95.9% from 94.9%, with an improvement in the expense ratio offset by a weaker loss ratio.

Full-year net profit grew to $US640.7 million ($903.4 million) from $US549.1 million ($774.2 million) in 2017, while GWP increased 3% to $US7.7 billion ($10.86 billion).