Coronavirus losses and poor investment returns drive insurer to a $712m loss

QBE has taken a $335m underwriting hit as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic over the course of the first six months of 2020.

Unveiling its H1 results, the insurer reported a net loss after tax of $712m compared with a $463m profit for the same period in 2019.

QBE said this drop in performance “reflects a substantial reduction in investment income due to extreme market volatility, coupled with a deterioration in the reported underwriting performance due to COVID‑19, adverse prior accident year development and higher than expected catastrophe claims”.

At an underwriting level, QBE  reported a combined operating ratio (COR) of 103.4% excluding the impact of Covid-19, up from 99.3% for the first half of 2019. The effect of the coronavirus crisis, however, added a further 6.1 percentage points to the insurer’s COR, for an overall ratio of 109.5%.

Despite these pressures, QBE still managed to grow its gross written premium by 10%, largely driven by increasing prices, as well as growth in its North America and International divisions.