- Specialist insurer Hiscox reported gross written premiums grew 3.3% in the first quarter, though weakness in its reinsurance divisions kept a lid on growth.

Gross written premiums increased by 3.3% to $1.165bn from $1.158n a year earlier during the first quarter.

Gross written premiums in its London Market business grew by 5.3% in constant currency to $228.6m (2018as rate improvement continues in the majority of classes.

But Hiscox Re & ILS, gross written premiums decreased by 4.6% in constant currency to $342.8m, with the main driver 'being a reduction of capital available to be deployed by the ILS funds following the significant losses of last year,' the company said.

Excluding the impact of ILS, premiums grew by 3%.

The investment return for the first nine months of 2018 was $44m, down from $83m a year earlier, while assets under management were $6.44bn at 30 September, up from $6.19bn a year earlier.

Market sentiment in 2018 had remained challenging, with most asset classes in which the company's invests generating low or even negative returns, Hiscox said.

Hiscox reserved net $125m to cover claims and reduced profit commissions resulting from Hurricanes Florence and Michael, which made landfall on the US East Coast, and Typhoons Jebi and Trammi, which impacted Japan.

But its retail businesses pricing was broadly flat, with claims trends in the market driving increases in UK home insurance. The company said it was adopting a cautious approach as rates in cyber were under pressure in the quarter.

The retail businesses also saw a more 'normal' claims experience compared to a very benign start to 2018, while Hiscox USA continued to 'see claims in the D&O book where we are actively reducing,' the company said.

The investment return for the first three months of 2019 grew 5.2% to $84.2m compared with a loss of $13.5mon an annualised basis. Assets under management at 31 March 2018 were $6,334m, up from $6,586m a year earlier.

'We have done what we said we would do in the first quarter. In retail we continue to pull back in US private company D&O, where conditions are challenging, and the UK business is adapting to a new IT system which will help us capture the long-term opportunity,' said Bronek Masojada, Chief Executive Officer. 'We expect growth for our retail businesses to trend towards the mid-point of our 5-15% target range in the second half'

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