Insurer Travelers' profit beats estimates on investment gains, fewer claims

The insurer's strong quarter caps off a year of the COVID-19 pandemic

  

Property and casualty insurer Travelers Cos Inc reported a jump in quarterly profit that beat analysts' estimates on Thursday, helped by an increase in returns from investments and lower catastrophe claims.

The company reported a core income of $1.26 billion, or $4.91 per share, in the fourth quarter ended Dec. 31, compared with $867 million, or $3.32 per share, a year earlier.

Analysts had expected a profit of $3.18 per share on average, according to Refinitiv data.

New York-based Travelers, often seen as a bellwether for the insurance sector as it typically reports before its industry peers, said net written premiums rose 3% to $7.27 billion for the reported quarter.

The insurer's strong quarter caps off a year of the COVID-19 pandemic, which has had a far less impact on property casualty insurers than many investors expected, mainly because of pandemic-related exclusions in their contracts.

Travelers' underwriting gains rose to $955 million from $513 million a year earlier, while pre-tax net investment income rose 10% to $677 million, helped by gains in its non-fixed income investment portfolio.

The company reported a combined ratio of 86.7%, compared with 92.4% a year earlier. A ratio below 100% means the insurer earned more in premiums than it paid out in claims.

The insurer reported catastrophe loss net of reinsurance of $29 million in the quarter, compared with $85 million a year earlier. Full-year losses jumped to $1.6 billion, impacted mainly by tornados, storms, hurricanes and civil unrest in the United States.

Shares of Travelers, a Dow component, were up marginally in light trade on Thursday.

(Reporting by Noor Zainab Hussain in Bengaluru and Suzanne Barlyn in Washington Crossing, Pennsylvania; Editing by Shinjini Ganguli) ((noor.hussain@thomsonreuters.com; Within U.S. +1 646 223 8780; Outside U.S. +91 80 6182 2663 or +91 80 3796 2663 ;))

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