W.R. Berkley Corp. generated record net income in its 2020 fourth-quarter and a healthy combined ratio, results that company attributed to rate hikes, bigger investment returns and ongoing underwriting discipline.

Fourth-quarter net income reached nearly $312.2 million, or $1.67 per diluted share, compared to $119.3 million, or $0.62 per diluted share over the same period a year ago. Berkley said that the net income level was an “all-time record” for the company.

Another growth engine for the Berkley—rate hikes. Excluding workers compensation, the insurer and reinsurer said average rate increases surged by 15.4 percent, with no sign of moderation in the months ahead.

Berkley’s insurance combined ratio landed at 92.8, versus 93.3 in the 2019 fourth quarter. Its reinsurance and monoline excess combined ratio was 77.8, improved from 95.5 in the same, year-ago quarter.

Investment income saw a huge increase—reaching nearly $181 million for the quarter, compared to $137.3 million in Q4 2019.

Here are additional Q4 result highlights:

  • Consolidated gross written premiums surpassed $2.2 billion for the quarter, up from $2 billion in the 2019 fourth quarter. Consolidated net premiums written hit $1.8 billion, compared to more than $1.6 billion the year before.
  • Broken down further, insurance gross written premiums were just under $2 billion for the quarter, compared to $1.8 billion in Q4 2019. Net insurance premiums written hit just under $1.6 billion, up from nearly $1.5 billion a year ago.
  • Reinsurance/monoline excess gross written premiums surpassed $225.3 million, compared to $200 million in Q4 2019. Net premiums written in the unit were above $205 million, versus $175.6 million last year.
  • Workers compensation net premiums written for the quarter reached nearly $242 million, down from almost $283 million in the 2019 fourth quarter.
  • W.R. Berkley said that catastrophes added 2.3 loss ratio points to the reported combined ratio, including 1.5 loss ratio points for COVID-19 related losses.
  • The insurer booked $42.2 million in catastrophe losses in Q4, including COVID-19-related losses, down from nearly $20.5 million in the 2019 fourth quarter.

Source: W.R. Berkley