RSA premiums rise despite Chile losses

BRITISH based insurer RSA saw premiums rise by five per cent during the first quarter, despite taking a £30m hit from the Chilean earthquake in February and a series of bad weather in Europe at the start of the year.

RSA reported a net premium of £1.9bn during the period and said the increase indicated a good start to the year.

Chief executive Andy Haste noted RSA’s growth in the UK, Canada and Latin America and said the group is looking to the future with confidence.

The City based insurer saw UK premiums up seven per cent to £697m, while its international business premiums rose five per cent to £1bn and emerging markets were up five per cent to £204m.

It confirmed it was on track to report investment income of close to £540m for the full-year and expects a combined operating ratio of around 95 per cent in 2010.

As the largest insurer in Chile, RSA said the February earthquake cost it £30m in net reinsurance, while severe winter weather in Europe cost £80m more than was expected.

Analysts said RSA’s figures indicated a general return to growth in the non-life insurance industry, which was hit by the global downturn.

Ben Cohen of Collins Stewart said: “Its results were better than my forecasts.”

RSA made a series of acquisitions in Sweden, Denmark and Oman, while also signing a deal with Tesco to provide pet insurance, which it hopes will deliver £100m in premiums in its first full year.