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Markel upbeat after catastrophe-driven 2017 results dip | Insurance Business


Markel Corporation is the latest in a string of insurers and reinsurers to report a dip in profit for 2017, thanks to a difficult year of catastrophe losses.

The US-headquartered insurer posted a net income to shareholders of $395.3 million (£284.7 million), down 13% from the $455.7 million (£328.2 million) achieved in 2017. The company’s combined operating ratio also took a hit from the 2017 catastrophe losses, rising to 105% from 92% in 2016.

The combined ratio for Markel’s US insurance segment for 2017 was 95%, up two percentage points from 2016. International insurance posted a combined ratio of 104%, up 10% from 2016, and the company’s reinsurance segment scored 132% compared to 87% the previous year. Markel partly attributes all of these increases to 2017’s costly catastrophe season.  

Gross written premiums (GWP) for the year were up 9% to $5.51 billion, from $4.8 billion the year before. Of that GWP total, $2.86 billion came from the US insurance market, $1.26 billion derived from Markel’s international insurance operations, and $1.1 billion came from its reinsurance division.

Despite a difficult year, Markel is celebrating a comprehensive income of $1.2 billion in 2017, compared to $667 million in 2016 due to an increase in net unrealized gains on investments. This was driven by the company’s “outstanding performance in [its] equity portfolio” and reflects “the benefit of [Markel’s] diversified operations,” according to executive chairman, Alan I. Kirshner.

The insurance powerhouse has been in growth mode for a number of years, and made a series of key acquisitions in 2017, which are boosting long-term value for the company.

“Our revenues also set a record, exceeding $6 billion, and reflect both organic growth and contributions from recent acquisitions,” Kirshner commented. “In the fourth quarter, we completed the acquisition of State National, which adds a premier fronting platform and collateral protection
coverages to our insurance operations.

“Earlier this year we added Costa Farms to our portfolio of Markel Ventures companies and we also completed the acquisition of SureTec in our insurance operations. We are excited about the opportunities each of these acquisitions brings to Markel as we continue to focus on building long-term value for our shareholders.”

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