Claims fall sharply in year to June

Gross incurred claims on Australian general insurers fell 22% to $27.9 billion in the year to June as the industry rebounded from last year’s natural disasters.

The figure is still up more than 20% on 2010, when $22.8 billion of claims were made, according to data compiled by the Australian Prudential Regulation Authority (APRA).

Net incurred claims rose 11% to $19.7 billion, with APRA noting higher gross claims in 2011 were offset by increased reinsurance recoveries.

It says the higher net claims figure this year also relates to more claims for long-tail lines, which carry less reinsurance and have been more affected by lower interest rates.

The figures cover 112 insurers and 12 reinsurers. Their underwriting combined ratio was 98%, compared with 96% last year.

The total industry net profit was $3.7 billion, down from $3.9 billion.

Gross written premium was $37.46 billion, up 9%. This includes $1.2 billion collected in fire services levies, up 4%.

General insurers paid $9.15 billion for reinsurance, up 9%, and reinsurance recoveries fell to $5.8 billion from $15.79 billion.

In a breakdown of underwriting performance by class of business, APRA notes underwriting expenses as a proportion of gross earned premium generally range from 13% to 34% but the travel business had a ratio of 47%.

Other relatively expensive classes to write include fire and industrial special risks, and public and product liability.

“The least expensive class of business to write was compulsory third party motor vehicle, with underwriting expenses representing 13% of gross earned premium,” APRA said.

The combined ratio for most classes of business ranged from 62% to 123% but was 143% for travel.