Reinsurance underwriting arm posts $212m loss

Bermuda-based reinsurer Aspen Insurance Holdings (AIH) has posted a net loss of $151.7m in the first quarter of 2011 as a result of natural catastrophe losses.

The group’s results follow in the wake of fellow (re)insurers RenaissanceRe, Montpelier Re and Transatlantic Re which have also recorded first quarter capital losses.

AIH’s Q1 losses include losses of $255.9m, net of reinsurance recoveries, reinstatement premiums and taxes, down from net profit after tax of $18.3 million in the same quarter last year.

The (re)insurer’s combined operating ratio rose 38 percentage points to 148.5% from 110.3% in 2010 first quarter, after suffering “an exceptionally high level of natural catastrophes” during the period,

Gross written premiums for the quarter dropped 4.5% to $671.3m from $702.8m in 2010.

AIH’s reinsurance arm suffered underwriting losses of $212.0m in Q1 2011, compared with a smaller loss of $40.5m for the equivalent period last year.

The underwriting results reflect a combined ratio of 178.0% compared to 113.9% in 2010 Q1, reflecting losses suffered from natural catastrophes in Australia, New Zealand and Japan.

Aspen CEO Chris O’Kane said: “These natural catastrophes had a material impact on our reinsurance segment results, while our insurance segment reported a modest profit in the quarter. Our balance sheet remains strong and we believe that we are well positioned to benefit as the pricing environment improves.”