CNA Financial Corporation today announced first quarter 2021 net income of $312 million, or $1.14 per share, versus net loss of $61 million, or $(0.23) per share, in the prior year quarter. Core income for the quarter was $263 million, or $0.96 per share, versus $108 million, or $0.40 per share, in the prior year quarter.
Our Property & Casualty segments produced core income of $263 million for the first quarter of 2021, an increase of $142 million compared to the prior year quarter primarily due to higher net investment income driven by limited partnership and common stock returns and improved non-catastrophe current accident year underwriting results. These results were partially offset by higher net catastrophe losses.
Our Life & Group and Corporate & Other segments produced core income (loss) for the first quarter of 2021 of $36 million and $(36) million, respectively.
CNA Financial declared a quarterly dividend of $0.38 per share, payable June 3, 2021 to stockholders of record on May 17, 2021.
"I am very pleased with our results as we achieved the best underlying combined ratio in over 12 years, offsetting substantially elevated catastrophes in the first quarter, as well as continued double-digit rate increases and strong new business growth. We remain bullish about our growth opportunities for the remainder of the year as we expect favorable market conditions to persist," said Dino E. Robusto, Chairman & Chief Executive Officer of CNA Financial Corporation.
The combined ratio excluding catastrophes and development improved 1.8 points as compared with the prior year quarter. The expense ratio improved 1.6 points driven by net earned premium growth of 6%. The underlying loss ratio was largely consistent with the prior year quarter.
The combined ratio increased 0.8 points as compared with the prior year quarter. Net catastrophe losses were $125 million, or 6.8 points of the loss ratio in the quarter compared with $75 million, or 4.3 points of the loss ratio, for the prior year quarter. Favorable net prior period development improved the loss ratio by 0.6 points in the current quarter compared with 0.7 points of improvement in the prior year quarter.
P&C segments, excluding third party captives, generated gross written premium growth of 8% and net written premium growth of 4%.