Switzerland-based insurer Helvetia has reported first-half post-tax earnings of CHF196.9m, up from CHF179.4m in the same period last year, on business volume up 1.3% year on year to CHF4.82bn. The combined ratio improved to 93.6%, from 94.9%.
Helvetia, which late last week announced its completion of the takeover of Basler Austria, is also in the process of merging with / taking over Nationale Suisse.
It said that the main driver of its earnings increase was from non-life, up 37.5% year on year to CHF103.1m. "In addition to the usual strong earnings in the home market of Switzerland, almost all of the foreign markets contributed to the increased earnings and improved their share of the overall result", the company said.
The improved combined ratio was attributed to a lower level of storm claims in H1 2014, compared with the corresponding period last year.
The life insurance result of CHF71.9m was 0.9% the same period last year. The investment result declined but the technical performance improved sufficiently to compensate for this.
"The good results made it possible to further strengthen reserves, particularly in Switzerland and Germany, due to the continued low interest rates".
Helvetia said that, after a portfolio restructuring last year, the German business recorded "a solid increase" in turnover of 3.4%. There was 2.8% growth in Switzerland. Helvetia said that "Spain and Italy are also seeing the first rays of hope after the weak growth in recent years resulting from the recession". The Spanish unit again booked growth of 1.2%, while the Italian market profited from the acquisition of Chiara Assicurazioni.
Helvetia Group chief executive Stefan Loacker said: "The impressive 2014 interim results underscore Helvetia Group's successful performance. Profitable growth and a solid capital base create the best foundation to form a unique insurance group with Nationale Suisse with excellent prospects for success."