Gross written premiums grew to £1.21bn last year

A quiet year for catastrophe losses helped Beazley report its lowest combined operating ratio (COR) since floating on the London stock exchange.

The insurer, which manages five Lloyd’s syndicates, reported a COR of 84% in the year to 31 December – an improvement on 2012’s 91% – and the lowest ratio since it became a public company in 2002.

Gross written premiums grew 4% to $1.97bn (£1.21bn) and pre-tax profits increased by 25% to $313.3m (£191.9m).

The quiet year for catastrophe losses allowed Beazley to release reserves from short-tail classes of business, but business lines that are not exposed to catastrophes also performed excellently, said chief executive Andrew Horton.

Beazley increased its dividend per share from 8.3p to 8.8p and will pay a special dividend of 16.1p, nearly double last year’s 8.4p.

“Despite intensifying competition in some areas, we continue to identify attractive growth opportunities across the breadth of our well-diversified portfolio. The strength of our underwriting performance gives us the financial flexibility to take advantage of these opportunities while still enhancing returns to shareholders through a special dividend and an increased regular dividend,” Horton said.