Lack of cat activity has masked recession impacts, says chairman

Canopius Group increased profits to £55m from £43m for 2009, but warned that it expects a tougher 2010 with a string of catastrophe-related payouts, including the earthquakes in Haiti and Chile, and the UK freeze.

Canopius tightened its underwriting to improve combined operating ratio from 100.4% in 2008, to 88.1%. Lloyd’s largest private underwriter boosted gross written premium from £457m to £592m.

Chairman Michael Watson said: “The relative lack of catastrophe activity in 2009 tended to mask the impact on the insurance industry of the recession and continuing competitive conditions.

“Steering our way through this environment, we maintained our focus on underwriting discipline and, as a consequence, produced a good 2009 result.”

Speaking of recent catastrophes, he said: “Inevitably we have suffered our share of losses from these events, but we currently consider these to be within our expectations for events of this magnitude.”