The Travelers Companies reported a net loss of $40 million for the quarter ended June 30, 2020, compared to net income of $557 million in the prior year quarter.
The insurer said COVID-19 and related economic conditions produced a modest net loss of about $50 million in the quarter, reflecting increases in COVID-related workers’ compensation and business insurance claims being offset by reductions in auto claims and traditional workers’ compensation.
Net realized investment gains in the current quarter were $13 million pre-tax, compared to net realized investment gains of $25 million pre-tax in the prior year quarter.
The combined ratio of 103.7 increased 5.3 points largely due to higher catastrophe losses (7.0 points).
Net written premiums of $7.346 billion decreased 1%. Excluding premium refunds provided to personal automobile customers in response to COVID-19 and related economic conditions, net written premiums increased 2%.
“We were very pleased with our marketplace execution in the quarter, particularly in light of the challenging economic environment. Net written premiums declined just slightly, as the impact of the pandemic on insured exposures in our commercial businesses and our auto refund program in Personal Insurance were largely offset by strong renewal rate change in all three segments,” said Alan Schnitzer, chairman and chief executive officer, in prepared remarks prior to an earnings call with analysts.
He said that investments the company has been making in digital tools for employees, customers and agents have proven “particularly valuable” as it manages its business through the pandemic. “We will continue to invest to advance our innovation priorities and ensure that those capabilities and our other competitive advantages remain relevant and differentiating,” he said.
Catastrophe losses came in at $854 million pre-tax, compared to $367 million pre-tax in the same quarter last year. Catastrophe losses in the second quarter of 2020 primarily resulted from severe storms in several regions of the United States including a tornado in Tennessee and civil unrest.
In its management discussion of the quarter, the company noted that on average over the last 10 years, it has experienced approximately 40% of its annual catastrophe losses during the second quarter, primarily from severe wind and hail storms, including tornadoes. Hurricanes, wildfires and winter storms tend to happen at other times of the year.
Net investment income was $268 million pre-tax, compared to $648 million pre-tax in the prior year quarter.
In connection with the emergence of PG&E Corp. and Pacific Gas and Electric Co. from bankruptcy on July 1, 2020, the Travelers expects to recognize in the third quarter of 2020 favorable prior year reserve development of approximately $400 million, pre-tax and net of expenses and reinsurance, related to the 2017 and 2018 wildfires in California.
The Business Insurance segment loss was $58 million after-tax, compared with segment income of $351 million after-tax in the prior year quarter. The difference was primarily due to lower net investment income, higher catastrophe losses and no net prior year reserve development compared with net favorable prior year reserve development in the prior year quarter, partially offset by a higher underlying underwriting gain. The Business Insurance combined ratio of 107.1% increased 6.0 points, with 4.5 points due to higher catastrophe losses.
Workers’ compensation and commercial property had better than expected loss experience in the segment’s domestic operations for multiple accident years. Offsetting these liens were general liability (excluding asbestos and environmental) and commercial multi-peril with higher than expected loss experience in the segment’s domestic operations for primary and excess coverages for multiple accident years.
Business Insurance net written premiums of $3.777 billion decreased 3%. Strong retention and higher renewal rate changes were more than offset by reduced exposures and a decrease in new business volume, both impacted by COVID-19 and related economic conditions.
Business Insurance achieved renewal rate change of 7.4%, nearly 4 points higher than the prior year quarter and its highest level since 2013, while retention remained strong.
Segment income for Personal Insurance was $10 million after-tax, a decrease of $78 million. Segment income decreased primarily due to higher catastrophe losses and lower net investment income, partially offset by a higher underlying underwriting gain and higher net favorable prior year reserve development.
The Personal Insurance combined ratio of 101.3 increased 1.1 points due to higher catastrophe losses (12.5 points), largely offset by a lower underlying combined ratio (10.6 points) and higher net favorable prior year reserve development (0.8 points). The underlying combined ratio of 84.0 decreased 10.6 points, primarily driven by lower non-catastrophe weather-related losses in the homeowners and other product line and lower losses in the automobile product line due to a decrease in miles driven attributable to COVID-19 and related economic conditions (net of premium refunds).
Net written premiums of $2.835 billion decreased 1%. Excluding premium refunds provided to personal automobile customers, net written premiums increased 6%. Agency Automobile net written premiums decreased 12% due to the premium refunds. Excluding the impact of the premium refunds, Agency Automobile net written premiums increased 3%, driven by strong retention, renewal premium change of 2% and higher levels of new business. Agency Homeowners and Other net written premiums increased 13%, driven by strong retention, renewal premium change of 8% and higher levels of new business.
Bond & Specialty Insurance
Segment income for Bond & Specialty Insurance was $72 million after-tax, a decrease of $102 million. The combined ratio of 93.8 increased 18.9 points due to net unfavorable prior year reserve development compared to net favorable prior year reserve development in the prior year quarter (10.9 points), a higher underlying combined ratio (7.1 points) and higher catastrophe losses (0.9 points). Net written premiums of $734 million increased 3%, reflecting strong retention and increased levels of renewal premium change in management liability.
*A version of this story ran previously in our sister publication Insurance Journal.