Profits down more than 30% on weather and oil claims

Hiscox reported H1 pre-tax profit cut from £141.4m to £97.2m because of catastrophe claims from the UK winter freeze, Chile earthquake, Windstorm Xynthia and the Deepwater Horizon oil spill. It also said it had lower investment returns.

Robert Hiscox, chairman, said: "The story remains the same and it is a good one. Hiscox is defensively placed for these market conditions with a robust book of reinsurance balanced by growing specialist businesses.

“When the market turns, which it inevitably will, and interest rates rise, which they must one day, we will have another surge of growth. In the meantime, we will keep our tinder dry with disciplined, selective underwriting and cautious investing."

H1 financial highlights (2009 in brackets)

  • Gross premiums written £904.3m (£906.0m)
  • Net premiums earned £592.7m (£545.4m)
  • Profit before tax £97.2m (£141.4m)
  • Group combined ratio 93.6% (87.8%)
  • Group combined ratio before monetary FX 94.8% (78.6%)