The big four European reinsurers reported solid underwriting performance during the first half of 2019, with results boosted by limited natural catastrophe losses and an improved pricing environment, according to Fitch Ratings.
The rating agency pointed to growing momentum for positive premium rate development at the June/July renewals, as well as strong premium growth.
Munich Re, Hannover Re and SCOR all reported property and casualty (P&C) reinsurance combined ratios well below 100% for the first six months of 2019.
Swiss Re, on the other hand, recorded a combined ratio of 100.5%, due to adverse development relating to its 2018 losses, particularly Typhoon Jebi.
On a normalised basis, adjusting for budgeted totals for major losses and prior-year reserve development, Fitch found that combined ratios remained close to breakeven at 100%.
The big four European reinsurers also reported strong P&C premium growth, driven by an expansion in structured reinsurance solutions, as well as good performance in traditional reinsurance lines.
In terms of life and health, premium growth was more modest, although analysts noted that there was a strong improvement in Asia.
Performance was more mixed in primary lines, with Swiss Re again lagging behind on a combined ratio of 132.8%, reflecting the impact of reserve strengthening and the implementation of an adverse development cover with its P&C reinsurance division.
All four reinsurers reported a strong return on investments (ROI) for H1 2019, Fitch said, with Swiss Re reporting the strongest ROI of 4.2%, driven by market value gains on equity securities and gains within the fixed-income portfolio.