BRUSSELS, May 11 (Reuters) - Belgian financial group KBC Groep NV on Thursday reported a better-than-expected net profit for the first quarter, as lending and deposits rose while low loan loss provisions and insurance claims also helped the company.
Deposits and loans advanced in most of its markets, including at its main units in Belgium and the Czech Republic, leading to an overall increase of 4 percent for loans and 10 percent for deposits.
The group's combined ratio - costs plus claims as a percentage of revenues, a key profit indicator in the non-life insurance sector - fell to 79 percent from 91 percent a year ago, a number KBC called "exceptionally low".
Last year's insurance results were impacted by the bombings at the Brussels Airport and the city's metro on March 22, which killed 32 people and wounded many others.
For the group as a whole, net profit rose by more than 60 percent in the first quarter to 630 million euros ($684.68 million), well above the 501 million expected in a Reuters poll of six analysts. ($1 = 0.9201 euros) (Reporting by Robert-Jan Bartunek; Editing by Subhranshu Sahu)