(Adds context on peer performance, current industry background, divisional performance)
May 10 (Reuters) - Lloyd’s of London insurer Beazley Plc posted a 10 percent year-on-year rise in gross written premiums in the first quarter, as a surge in property insurance added to robust growth of its main professional liability business.
The underwriter, which provides marine, casualty and property insurance and reinsurance, said gross written premiums rose to $631 million for the quarter ended March 31, from $573 million a year earlier.
Premiums in specialty lines, the company’s largest division and source of much of Beazley’s growth in recent years, rose 6 percent to $295 million, helped by growth in business written within the U.S.
That compared, however to a surge in gross premiums at its property business of 29 percent, to $108 million, while political, accident & contingency premiums rose 14 percent to $67 million.
Fellow Lloyd’s insurer Hiscox posted a 24.3 percent rise in first-quarter gross written premiums on Tuesday, while rival Lancashire’s premiums rose about 9.8 percent.
Beazley said in February it was aiming for double-digit premium growth this year as it invests in the specialty business, which insures professions including lawyers, architects and engineers.
More broadly, insurance industry premiums, previously pressured by tough competition, have begun to rise in response to last year’s record $135 billion in payouts due to hurricanes, earthquakes and wildfires.
Beazley paid out over $110 million in cash advances and claims settlements over the whole of 2017, compared to Hiscox’s $225 million.
Beazley reiterated that combined ratio, a measure of underwriting profitability, is expected to be in the low nineties in 2018 compared with 99 percent in 2017. (Reporting By Justin George Varghese in Bengaluru; editing by Patrick Graham)