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Zurich’s Asia-Pacific earnings fall after travel crash

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Zurich says its property and casualty gross written premium (GWP) in the Asia Pacific dropped during January-September as demand for travel insurance was decimated.

Asia Pacific GWP fell 11% on a like-for-like basis to $US2.18 billion ($3.01 billion), with growth in Japan offset by a reduction in travel insurance across the region.

Zurich had previously revealed its business operating profit fell 40% in the first half, in part driven by losses incurred at its Australia-based travel business Cover-More.

Zurich’s Asia Pacific premium rates are up 4% so far this year.

Worldwide, Zurich’s global property and casualty GWP rose 3% worldwide to $US27.26 billion ($37.7 billion) during the first nine months of the year, driven by higher premium rates as all regions saw increases driven by commercial insurance.

Group CFO George Quinn says commercial premium rates increased 18% in North America during the third quarter, and Zurich’s life business also saw a return to growth.

Losses from natural catastrophe events are expected to come in around 2 percentage points higher than normal for the second half of this year.

In Zurich’s Life business, annual premium-equivalent sales fell by 19% year-on-year to $US2.6 billion, driven by a combination of government-enforced restrictions related to the pandemic.

New business value declined 18% on a like-for-like basis on lower new business volumes, unfavourable economic assumption changes and operating assumption changes impacting key countries in Asia Pacific.

In August, Zurich revealed a 56% decline in first-half earnings in its Asia Pacific business on a sharp decline in sales at Cover-More, as well as weaker results in its Australian life insurance operations due to adverse disability claims.

Sales at Cover-More plunged to less than 10% of monthly levels in April, May and June a year ago.