State Auto Financial Corp. lost $114.6 million in the 2020 first quarter and said its combined ratio climbed above 107. Investment and catastrophe losses were behind the results.

At the same time, the company reported large premium gains due to rate hikes and organic growth.

Mike LaRocco, State Auto

“While the challenges we faced in first quarter 2020 were significant, this was yet another quarter in which there’s clear evidence of our continued progress toward sustained profit and growth,” State Auto Chairman, President and CEO Mike LaRocco said in prepared remarks. “Our investments in technology that began five years ago are paying off, and we’re seeing similar benefits from more recent investments.”

He added that “areas that we knew needed attention and we focused on are showing signs of improvement, and that the ongoing effort of “rebuilding of State Auto has yielded many benefits, including the ability to navigate the kind of adversity we all face today with confidence.”

That adversity – COVID-19 – has created plenty of unknowns in the months ahead, LaRocco said, but he emphasized that State Auto is continuing to function and serve clients.

“From the very early days of the pandemic, we’ve been working with customers in need of flexibility when it comes to payments and payment plans, and we’ll continue to support them, our agents, associates and communities through this challenge in the months ahead,” he said.

State Auto’s $114.6 million net loss translated to $2.62 per diluted share, compared to $49.4 million in net income, or $1.12 per diluted share, for the 2019 first quarter.

The Ohio-based insurer’s combined ratio for Q1 was 107.2, compared to 99.7 for the same, year-ago period. State Auto said it booked $41.9 million in catastrophe losses for the period, compared to $17.17 million last year. First quarter cat losses included a severe wind and hail storm, and tornadoes in Tennessee. Non-catastrophe losses reached $10.5 million.

Here are additional Q1 result highlights:

  • Consolidated net premiums written surpassed $346.4 million, up from $306 million in the 2019 first quarter.
  • Net investment losses hit $135.2 million, compared to $44.9 million in investment gains last year. Net investment income was just under $19 million, versus $19.4 million in Q1 2019.
  • Net written premium for State Auto’s personal and commercial segments grew by 10.5 percent and 17.6 percent, respectively.
  • The insurer credits gains in its personal lines from new business growth and premium increases in homeowners and other personal lines, though that was partially offset due to declines in new business and retention for personal auto.
  • Commercial lines grew due to both new business and rate hikes in commercial auto and middle market commercial. That was offset due to workers compensation premium decreases as competition in the market heightened.
  • State Auto exited its specialty insurance business, and now counts it as “specialty run-off” in its financial results.

Source: State Auto