QBE’s group first half profits have been boosted by premium growth from acquisitions completed within the past year.

Group net profit after income rose by 54% to US$ 673m from $440m, due largely to the acquisition growth and increased investment income which helped offset the impact of catastrophe claims.

QBE has also bought additional reinsurance coverage for its specialist classes of business, which the insurer says it needs to “protect our portfolios against a continuation of the unusual frequency of catastrophe claims”.

For the first time since 2004, QBE reported a combined operating ratio of over 90% with the first half COR rising from 89.7% to a still-profitable 95.7%.

Gross written premiums also improved, growing 30% to $8.94bn from $6.86bn in the first half of 2010.