Hanover Posts $49M Q4 Profit; Pricing Improved in Commercial Lines

By | February 10, 2012

The Hanover Insurance Group, based in Worcester, Mass., reported $49.3 million for its 2011 fourth-quarter net income, down 15.6 percent from one year ago when the insurer posted $58.4 million profit.

For the 2011 full year, Hanover posted net income of $37.1 million, down 76 percent from 2010 when it reported $154.8 million net income.

Hanover’s fourth-quarter catastrophe losses, pre-tax, were $55.6 million, including $38.5 million from Thailand floods. For the 2011 full year, catastrophe losses, before taxes, were $361.6 million.

Net written premiums for the 2011 fourth quarter came in at $977.1 million, up 36 percent from $717.1 million during the year-ago period. The 2011 full-year net written premiums were $3.59 billion, up from $3.05 billion in 2010. The increase was driven by the addition of Chaucer premiums in the second half of 2011 as well as by growth in commercial lines.

Net investment income from continuing operations for the fourth quarter was $69.0 million, up 9.5 percent from $63.0 million reported during the year-ago period. For the 2011 full year, net investment income from continuing operations was $258.2 million, up 4.4 percent from $247.2 million in 2010. The increase in 2011 was helped by higher invested assets related to the acquisition of Chaucer, though the gain was partially offset by lower new money yields on fixed maturities.

The combined ratio for the 2011 fourth quarter was 99.0 percent (93.7 percent excluding catastrophe losses), compared to 97.8 percent one year ago. For the 2011 full year, the combined ratio came in at 104.6 percent (94.6 percent excluding catastrophe losses), deteriorating from 100.1 percent in 2010.

Improved Pricing in Virtually All Commercial Lines

CEO Frederick Eppinger said during the conference call that Hanover achieved pricing improvement in “virtually all” commercial lines business — for an overall pricing hike of 4 percent during the 2011 fourth quarter. Pricing in small commercial and middle markets not only improved as compared to the third quarter, but also as the months progressed within the quarter, and January was better than December.

“And in personal lines, we continued to achieve rate increases of over 5 percent. At the same time, we continued to improve our retention, reaching 86 percent in commercial lines and 81 percent in personal lines.”

Thanks to more normal weather in the fourth quarter, he added, “we were able to demonstrate the earnings potential of our company as we generated stable underwriting loss ratios.”

“2011 was an unprecedented year, as it was impacted by global catastrophes, low interest rates and a challenging market environment,” Eppinger said. “However, we continued to improve our position in the market. We enhanced our product portfolio, grew in targeted states and strengthened our already strong position with winning agents. We also integrated Chaucer into our organization, further diversifying our business and penetrating attractive specialty markets.”

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