International growth boosts Catlin income

CATASTROPHE specialist insurer Catlin saw first-quarter trading boosted by strong growth in its international hubs as its business in London contracted.

More than half of Catlin’s gross written premium was generated by its Bermuda, US and international hubs, including offices in Asia, Europe and Canada, in the first quarter of 2010, 42 per cent higher than in the same period in 2010.

The non-UK markets saw gross premiums grow to $735m from $518m in 2010.

This included an 107 per cent rise in business in its international division primarily because its new reinsurance business, Catlin Re Switzerland, opened in January.

In contrast its London and UK market premium income declined ten per cent to $677m from $754m in 2010.

“We will continue to underwrite prudently, taking advantage of opportunities produced by our global underwriting presence but refusing to write business that does not meet our standards,” chief executive Stephen Catlin said.

Group gross premium income increased by 11 per cent to $1.41bn from $1.27bn in 2010 while net premiums also rose 11 per cent to $882m from $798m in 2010 despite Catlin taking a $375m loss from catastrophes in the first quarter.

Shore Capital analyst Eamonn Flanagan said the drop in premiums written from the London market was welcome as it reduced Catlin’s exposure to highly competitive liability risk.

Stephen Catlin added that the company was seeing premium rates beginning to rise in some markets after the high incidence of disasters this year.

It “would be totally appropriate for rates to increase on a widespread basis” going forward, he said.