General insurance operating profit up 22% in first six months of year

Zurich Financial Services Group posted operating profit on its general insurance business of $2.2bn, an increase of 22% compared to the same period last year.

The financial services giant reported general insurance gross written premiums and policy fees of $20.6b, up 8% on last year. The combined ratio improved 0.3 points to 96.2%.

Zurich's chief executive Officer James Schiro said: “These are excellent results under any market condition. Not only are we exercising strict operational and financial discipline, but we are also executing on a successful growth strategy that is bolstering our position in attractive markets.”

The increase in premiums and policy fees was a result of organic growth as well as through bolt-on acquisitions, primarily in Europe and in emerging markets, the insurers said.

Premium rates in Europe showed “positive signs”, with the exception of the commercial segment in the UK and personal lines in Ireland.

“Volume growth in Europe General Insurance benefited from the targeted acquisitions made in a number of markets during 2007, while also reflecting strong organic growth such as in personal lines in Italy and, to a lesser extent, in the UK,” the company said in a statement.