Hiscox profits surge as storm claims fall

HISCOX yesterday reported a surge in pre-tax profits after the insurance group saw its figures sky rocket to £320.6m, quadrupling last year’s outcome.

The Bermuda based insurer said profits climbed after the company made a series of investments during the year. The diminished number of global catastrophes also affected its figures.

“Our catastrophe reinsurance underwriting in Bermuda and London was extremely profitable which enabled us to continue to invest in our US start-ups and direct business,” said chairman Robert Hiscox in the company’s statement.

He said that although the group’s European arm suffered during the first half of 2009, it recovered during the latter half of the year. Its Guernsey operations showed continual strong results.

Hiscox paid out more to shareholders during the year, as the company’s dividend climbed by 17 per cent to 15p per share from 12.75p in 2008, while income for the year climbed from £1.1bn to £1.4bn.

Hiscox, a FTSE 250 listed company, said that growth in its retail and speciality businesses additionally contributed to its financial success during a year that saw a raft of financial institutions take a hit from the recession.

“Good reinsurance profits have given us a platform to build,” said Hiscox.

He said: “[We have] record profits after continued investment in developing our UK brand and building our US business.”

The group is looking to the emerging economies, according to Hiscox, who said that once the company is fully profitable in both the UK and US, it will look to venture into Eastern economies like India and China.