Unit returns to underwriting profit with 96.5% COR

PPI complaints surge

Zurich’s UK general insurance business made an operating profit of $54m (£35m) in the first quarter of 2013, up 50% on the $36m it made in the same period last year, according to group results released this morning.

The underwriting result swung to a profit of $21m from a loss of $5m, and the combined operating ratio (COR) improved by 4.3 percentage points to a profitable 96.5% (Q1 2012: 100.8%).

The COR improvement was driven by reductions in both the loss ratio and expense ratio. The loss ratio fell 1.9 points to 67.9% (Q1 2012: 69.8%) and the expense ratio dropped 2.4 points to 28.6% (Q1 2012: 31%).

Group-wide, Zurich’s net profit fell 7% to $1.06bn in the first quarter of 2013 (Q1 2012: $1.14bn) .

The operating profit was almost unchanged at $1.4bn in the first quarter of 2013  and the COR was a similarly stable 94.9% (Q1 2012: 94.6%).

Zurich’s UK general insurance business chief executive Steve Lewis said: “It’s great to be able to report a positive set of numbers against the ongoing economic and market challenges. But I know that one quarter doesn’t make a year, so we will continue to take a disciplined approach in our underwriting and pricing decisions.

“The market remains challenging for all participants – insurers, brokers and customers alike. As such, we remain focused in delivering the required products, services and solutions, and continue to invest heavily in our people, who ultimately represent what we stand for in the market.”