Gross written premiums grow 13%

Lloyd's insurer Markel International, a division of US insurance group Markel Corporation, posted a combined ratio of 99% for the first nine months of 2010, up from 93% in the same period of 2009.

The company attributed the increased combined ratio to the Chilean earthquake and Deepwater Horizon oil rig disaster, which both hit in the first half of the year.

In the third quarter of 2010 alone, Markel International's combined ratio was 77%, compared with 91% in the same quarter of 2009. Markel said the better quarterly underwriting performance was caused by minimal catastrophes and prior-year reserve releases, primarly from the 2004-2008 accident years.

Markel International's gross written premiums increased 13% to $574m for the first nine months of 2010 from $510m in the same period last year. The rise was driven by additional writings across the majority of Markel International’s UK operating divisions and overseas operations. The growth at the overseas operations was primarily due to Markel International’s Canadian managing general agency Elliot Special Risks, which it acquired in the fourth quarter of 2009.

Markel Corporation as a whole made a net profit of $126.7m for the first nine months of 2010, up 17% on the $108.3m it made in the same period of 2009.