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Investments, Cat Losses Send 2011 Profit Lower as Scor Sees Strong Life Premium Growth

Source: A.M. Best - David Pilla

Posted on 09 Mar 2012

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Catastrophe losses and volatile financial markets outpaced premium growth for Scor SE as the French reinsurers recorded a 21.1% fall in 2011 net income.

Net income for the year fell to 330 million euros (US$433.4 million) from 418 million euros a year earlier. Fourth-quarter net income fell 32.6% to 102 million euros.

Scor adhered to a three-part strategy during a difficult year for both property catastrophe underwriting and investments, said Chief Executive Denis Kessler in a conference call. Those three parts are diversified growth on a global basis, "resilient profitability" and strong solvency, he said.

Property/casualty gross premiums written rose 8.8% to 4 billion euros for the year. Life reinsurance gross premiums rose 19.3% to 3.62 billion euros.

The global property/casualty reinsurance unit had a net combined ratio of 104.5 in 2011, compared with 98.7 a year earlier. The impact of heavy natural catastrophe losses during the year added 18.5 points to the combined ratio.

Scor said its significant catastrophe losses included floods in Australia and earthquakes in New Zealand and Japan in the first quarter; U.S. tornadoes in the second quarter; Denmark floods in the third quarter and catastrophic floods in Thailand in the fourth quarter. The Thailand floods alone contributed a pretax cost of 138 million euros to Scor's losses.

The reinsurer said "sustained positive development trends" in some product lines, notably aviation, credit and surety and facultative casualty, led to the release of 70 million euros of reserves.

Earlier this year, Scor Global P&C reported an 8.8% rise in gross written premiums at January renewals, compared with the previous year, confirming what the reinsurer sees as "continuing" recovery in the insurance and reinsurance markets. Premiums rose to 3.98 billion euros. Property/casualty treaty premiums rose 12%, and specialty treaty business rose 18%.

According to Scor, 70% of its nonlife treaties were up for renewal in January. Proportional motor business, notably in the United Kingdom, China and the Netherlands,"is experiencing particularly strong growth," the reinsurer said at the time.

Scor said the strong growth of life reinsurance premiums was partly due to its acquisition of Transamerica Re's mortality business, which was finalized on Aug, 9, and contributed 677 million euros to premiums.

According to Kessler, Scor Global Life "has been able to enhance its competitive edge with the major acquisition of Transamerica Re and the disposal of the U.S. annuity business, focusing our life activity on biometric risks."

The life reinsurance segment had strong new business growth in France and the Middle East, partly offsetting a reduction of in-force business, mainly in the German and U.S. markets.

Scor also got its first longevity deal contracted in the United Kingdom, and saw double-digit premium growth in critical illness, personal accident and long-term care lines, as well as in Central and Eastern Europe, Scandinavia, Asia-Australia, and France.

The group's investment income fell 9.4% to 624 million euros. The group said in light of volatile financial markets it had been de-risking its investment portfolio continuously, and by year-end 2011 had no exposure to the sovereign debt of Greece, Ireland, Italy, Portugal and Spain or to debt issued by U.S. states and municipalities.