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U.S. insurer Travelers' profit soars on investment gains, fewer claims

·1 min read

Jan 21 (Reuters) - Property and casualty insurer Travelers Cos Inc reported a jump in quarterly profit on Thursday, helped by an increase in returns from investments and lower catastrophe claims.

The company reported a core income of $1.26 billion, or $4.91 per share, in the fourth quarter ended Dec. 31, compared with $867 million, or $3.32 per share, a year earlier.

Analysts had expected a profit of $3.18 per share on average, according to Refinitiv data. It was not immediately clear whether the estimates were comparable.

New York-based Travelers, often seen as a bellwether for the insurance sector as it typically reports before its industry peers, said net written premiums rose 3% to $7.27 billion for the reported quarter.

The insurer's strong quarter caps off a year of the COVID-19 pandemic, which has had a far less impact on property casualty insurers than many investors expected, mainly because of pandemic-related exclusions in their contracts.

Travelers' underwriting gains rose to $955 million from $513 million a year earlier, while pre-tax net investment income rose 10% to $677 million, helped by gains in its non-fixed income investment portfolio.

The company reported a combined ratio of 86.7%, compared with 92.4% a year earlier. A ratio below 100% means the insurer earned more in premiums than it paid out in claims.

(Reporting by Noor Zainab Hussain in Bengaluru and Suzanne Barlyn in Washington Crossing, Pennsylvania; Editing by Shinjini Ganguli)