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Beazley gets boost from higher premiums in first quarter

(Reuters) - Lloyd's Of London insurer Beazley Plc on Thursday reported a 16 percent jump in gross written premiums in the first quarter as higher rates for its insurance policies offset an uptick in claims in some divisions.

Insurers have been struggling to raise rates due to strong competition, but Beazley said it had seen the chance to raise premium rates after a string of industry-wide catastrophe claims led to hefty bills in 2017 and 2018.

Premiums in Beazley's cyber and executive risk division rose 19 percent, driven by growth in its cyber business. Cyber insurance is often cited as a growth opportunity for Beazley with the market growing significantly in recent years.

"This strong start to the year in an improving rating environment should enable the business to reach double digit growth again in 2019," the company said in a statement.

Beazley, which provides casualty and property, cyber and political risk insurance, said gross written premiums rose to $731 million (562 million pounds) for the three months ended March 31, from $631 million a year earlier.

However, it said that its marine, property and reinsurance businesses continued to be impacted by "higher than normal levels" of claims.

The company, which also began operating through Lloyd's Of London's Brussels hub this year, reiterated that it was well prepared for Britain's impending exit from the European Union.

(Reporting by Pushkala Aripaka and Noor Zainab Hussain in Bengaluru; editing by Gopakumar Warrier and Patrick Graham)