Swiss Re reported a Group net loss for the first nine months of 2020 that narrowed to USD 691 million from USD 1.1 billion reported for the first half of the year when the Group made significant additions to its COVID-19 loss reserves. This result reflects a strong performance in the third quarter, with Group net income of USD 444 million. Reinsurance increased its net premiums earned in the nine-month period, driven by improved market conditions and demand for large transactions. Corporate Solutions continued the successful execution of its turnaround plan. The closing of the ReAssure sale to Phoenix Group Holdings plc resulted in a USD 1.5 billion dividend to the Group. Swiss Re maintained its industry-leading capital position, with a Group SST ratio of 223% as of 1 July 2020.
Swiss Re’s Group Chief Executive Officer Christian Mumenthaler said: “The COVID-19 pandemic continues to have a profound impact on communities, families and businesses across the globe, and our sympathies go out to all affected. Since the pandemic started, we have thoroughly tracked and prudently assessed its impact on our Group. We built substantial reserves in the first half of this year. Based on developments since then, we believe that our reserving approach remains appropriate and reflective of the ongoing uncertainty surrounding the impact of the pandemic. Our businesses are delivering a positive underlying performance, and we are confidently executing on the Group’s priorities in improving market conditions.“
In line with assumptions communicated with its half-year results, the Group made further additions to COVID-19 reserves in the third quarter, bringing the total amount to USD 3.0 billion at the end of the nine-month period. 67% of these losses represent incurred but not reported (IBNR) reserves. The uncertainty surrounding many factors related to the pandemic remains high and could impact claims developments in the coming quarters, either positively or negatively, relative to Swiss Re’s projections.
Excluding the impact of COVID-19 losses, Group net income increased to USD 1.6 billion for the nine-month period of 2020 from USD 1.3 billion for the prior-year period, which reflects the improved underlying performance of the businesses.
Swiss Re maintains a very strong capital position
Swiss Re’s Group SST ratio was 223% as of 1 July 2020 and remained above the Group target level of 220% throughout the third quarter. The Group SST calculation includes a forward-looking estimate for ultimate COVID-19-related losses and assumes future dividend payments.
Swiss Re’s Group Chief Financial Officer John Dacey said: “We continue to be focused simultaneously on managing all dimensions of the COVID-19 crisis while delivering on business priorities and pursuing promising new ventures. Thanks to Swiss Re’s industry-leading capital strength and risk knowledge, we are strongly positioned to capture attractive opportunities in upcoming renewals and deliver on our financial targets over the business cycle.“
Strong investment result despite financial market volatility
Swiss Re continued to successfully navigate global financial market volatility, generating a strong ROI of 3.4% for the first nine months of 2020. The result was driven by recurring income and realised gains generated from fixed-income positions as well as market gains on equity positions in the third quarter. Active portfolio management included a targeted reduction of sectors with a high vulnerability to COVID-19-related market impacts as well as timely portfolio hedging. The running yield for the period of 2.4% reflects the persistent low-yield environment.
P&C Re reports strong premium growth
Excluding COVID-19 claims and reserves, P&C Re’s net income amounted to USD 1.0 billion in the first nine months of 2020, up from USD 880 million in the prior-year period. The ROE, excluding COVID-19 losses, was 15.5%. P&C Re remains on track to reach the normalised1 combined ratio estimate of 97% for the full year 2020.
P&C Re delivered solid results in the third quarter, supported by strong recent renewals. This narrowed the US GAAP net loss for the nine-month period to USD 201 million. COVID-19 claims and reserves amounted to USD 1.6 billion in the nine-month period, with 87% of these being IBNRs and relating to affirmative non-damage business interruption, cancelled or postponed events, casualty and credit & surety losses.
Net premiums earned increased strongly by 9.2% to USD 15.5 billion in the nine-month period, due to large transactions and growth in natural catastrophe business, driven by successful renewals in the US and Asia.
Large natural catastrophe and man-made losses amounted to USD 1.5 billion for the first nine months of 2020. Natural catastrophe events in the third quarter were above expectations and consisted of Hurricanes Laura and Sally, the West Coast wildfires and Midwest storms in the US, as well as Yangtze floods and Typhoon Haishen. Man-made losses were dominated by the Beirut explosion.
L&H Re continues profitable expansion
L&H Re’s net income excluding COVID-19 claims and reserves amounted to USD 620 million in the first nine months of 2020, supported by a strong investment result with an ROI of 3.7%. The ROE excluding the impact of COVID-19 was 9.7%.
COVID-19-related claims and reserves amounted to USD 689 million in the first nine months of 2020, 35% of which are IBNR reserves. Including the impact of COVID-19 losses, L&H Re reported a US GAAP net income of USD 72 million for the period.
Net premiums earned and fee income in the first nine months of 2020 increased 6.4% to USD 10.1 billion, supported by individual large transactions, including longevity deals.
Corporate Solutions turnaround gathers momentum
Excluding COVID-19 losses, Corporate Solutions swung to a net income of USD 211 million for the nine-month period from a net loss of USD 441 million in the prior year. The ROE excluding COVID-19 losses was 12.3% and the combined ratio was 96.0%. On a normalised2 basis the combined ratio remains significantly ahead of the 105% estimate for 2020.
The nine-month performance reflects the benefits of management actions announced in 2019, including achievement of more than 70% of the planned portfolio pruning.
Claims and reserves related to COVID-19 totalled USD 678 million in the first nine months of 2020, resulting in a US GAAP net loss of USD 323 million. More than half of the losses were reserves for anticipated claims related to event cancellations, a line of business which Corporate Solutions exited in 2019, with the remainder of the losses coming mainly from property and credit & surety claims.
Net premiums earned were 3.6% lower at USD 3.0 billion, as active portfolio pruning was cushioned by rate improvements of 15% for the first nine months of 2020.
Life Capital successfully closes ReAssure sale
The sale of ReAssure to Phoenix Group successfully closed in the third quarter of 2020. Following the closing, Life Capital paid a dividend to Swiss Re Group of USD 1.5 billion.
Life Capital reported a net loss in the first nine months of 2020 of USD 136 million. This was largely driven by continued investment into the growth of iptiQ. Losses related to COVID-19 amounted to USD 15 million for the first nine months.
Net premiums earned and fee income were USD 1.6 billion. Gross premiums written of the open books increased by 19% when measured at constant foreign exchange rates. Swiss Re’s white-label digital insurance platform iptiQ increased the number of partners by 11 in the period.
Swiss Re’s Group Chief Executive Officer Christian Mumenthaler said: “Swiss Re is well-equipped to benefit from an improving market environment. Our capital position is very strong, allowing us to pursue profitable growth as prices develop favourably across both our P&C Re and Corporate Solutions businesses. We are confident that we can continue to support our clients with risk knowledge, capital strength and tailored solutions in these unprecedented times.“