Insuer posts 6% half-year profit rise.

Australian insurer QBE has reported a 6% increase in insurance pre-tax profit to A$1.1bn (£511m) for the six months to 30 June 2008.

QBE’s operating ratio was 85.8% for the half year, a slight improvement on 86.2% for the same period last year.

QBE Europe posted gross written premiums of A$2.67bn for the six months to June 2008, down from A$2.99bn in the first half of 2007. Its combined operating ratio hit 83.6%, down from 88.4%. The ratio of insurance profit to net earned premium was 24.6% for the half year, up from 22.3%.

QBE said results for the European business reflected “profitable earn-out from prior underwriting years, focus on portfolio profitability and continued low attritional claims initiatives to build our core portfolios outside London, targeting A$500m of new business in regional UK and mainland Europe over the next three years”.

Frank O’Halloran, chief executive of QBE, said: “We are extremely pleased with our profit given market conditions and increased catastrophe activity in the first half.”