Re/insurance holding company W.R. Berkley Corporation saw its fourth quarter underwriting income increase 71.1% against the prior year quarter to $114.7 million, while average rate increases excluding workers’ compensation were approximately 9%.
The company noted that, as rate increases remain robust, it expects continued opportunities to grow the top line.
Gross and net premiums written for Q4 increased 10.1% and 9.3%, respectively.
The accident year combined ratio excluding catastrophe losses was 92.3%, while the reported calendar year CR was 93.3%, which is inclusive of 1.2 loss ratio points from catastrophes.
“Our objective remains the creation of book value for our shareholders through an appropriate risk-adjusted return on equity,” the company said in a statement.
“We focus on our investment portfolio’s total return and consciously accept a degree of variability in our alternative investment performance.
“Although the fourth quarter was challenging for our alternative investments, it is our belief that they will continue to produce above-average long-term returns and remain a core part of our investment strategy.”
For the full year, total capital returned to shareholders was $326 million, including $308 million of ordinary and special dividends and $18 million of share repurchases.
Before dividends and share repurchases, book value per share grew 17.3%.
“We believe the market is at a point where those companies that have appropriately managed their businesses through the cycle will be able to grow meaningfully in this improving pricing environment,” the company added.
“As we look to 2020, we are confident that our Company is well positioned to continue to deliver superior value to our shareholders.”