5 February 2014News

Low cat losses boost AXIS profits for ‘entrepreneurial’ year

AXIS Capital Holdings becomes the latest reinsurer to post improved profits based on its performance last year. The company reports a net profit of $684 million compared with $495 million in 2012, an increase of some 38 percent.

Part of the improved performance was due to lower losses from natural catastrophes last year, something especially reflected in the combined ratio of its reinsurance business which was 83.4 percent last year compared with 106 percent in 2012.

The company grew its net premiums written for the year to $3.7 billion compared with $3.4 billion the year before. For the fourth quarter alone, the company made a net profit of $172 million compared with a net loss of $19 million for the fourth quarter of 2012.

The company notes that 2013 represented a very entrepreneurial year for the company during which it launched a number of new products and entered several new markets. It also stresses that despite increased competition in some areas, especially on the reinsurance side, the importance of established relationships negate this effect.

“2013 was also a year of gratifying achievement in numerous entrepreneurial initiatives,” says Albert Benchimol, president and CEO of AXIS Capital. “Among our milestone accomplishments this year was our establishment of a presence at Lloyd’s. We re-entered the retail primary casualty markets and wholesale small-account excess casualty in the US.

“We expanded existing specialties – such as our highly successful professional, energy and marine lines – into new geographies, notably Asia and Australia. We continued to build AXIS Accident & Health from a start-up into a meaningful participant in the niche markets of travel, accident and specialty health. Within AXIS Re, we established a weather and commodities operation and a third party capital management business. Meanwhile, our expansion in the agriculture sector quickly proved its worth in 2013.”

He continues: “Much has been made of the inflection point in pricing and increased competition in reinsurance. However, this remains a business of relationships and risk selection, and AXIS remains well-positioned to access, write and retain profitable business.

“We are pleased with the established specialties we have in both our insurance and reinsurance businesses. With these and the associated flexibility afforded us, we expect to continue to improve returns in 2014 as we make further progress in our various strategic initiatives.”