Investment returns shrink considerably 

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Brit’s post-tax profits plummeted to $15.6m (2014: $229.3m) last year.

Chief executive Mark Cloutier said: “A volatile geopolitical backdrop, low interest rate environment and declining growth within global economies resulted in a challenging investment environment in 2015, with few asset classes generating strong returns.”

Gross written premium fell to $1.99bn ($2.15m) for the Fairfax-owned insurer. Combined operating ratio crept up to 91.7% (89.5%).

Brit suffered a blow on the investment side, with returns of just $5m compared with $124.8m.

“We rebalanced our investment portfolio, reducing credit exposures, increasing exposure to government debt and extending duration in risk-free assets,” Cloutier said.

“This revised strategy takes a long-term view of markets, which was reflected in our overall 2015 return of 0.1%.”

Chief underwriting officer Matthew Wilson said: “Market conditions have remained difficult during 2015, with the industry experiencing continued pressure on premium rates, influenced by low levels of catastrophe activity and increased competition from both traditional and non-traditional capital sources.

“Against this backdrop and a higher than average incidence of smaller weather and risk losses, our 91.7% combined ratio is particularly pleasing.”