Boston-based Liberty Mutual more than doubled its first quarter profits year-on-year to $649mn as the firm avoided a significant catastrophe bill in the first three months of 2018.

Liberty_Mutual_Insurance_Headquarters_-_Boston,_MA

The company posted a combined ratio of 99 percent for the period, including 3.8 points of catastrophe losses, a marginal improvement on the 101.8 percent figure posted last year which contained 7.7 points of catastrophe claims.

Net written premiums were up 8.6 percent from 2017 at $9.43bn for the group, boosted by a 20.9 percent jump in the firm’s commercial Global Risk Solutions business to $2.95bn.

That division, which includes Liberty’s Lloyd’s, commercial and specialty lines, and surplus units, suffered $28mn of catastrophe losses in the period, which pushed the combined ratio up 1.2 points to 99.7 percent.

That compares to a result of 98.5 percent in 2017 when the Global RIsk Solutions business was hit with $46mn of catastrophe claims.

Liberty said it had managed to achieve rate increases of 3.4 percent in its specialty business, a marked improvement from the 2 percent reduction it suffered last year, while its reinsurance business secured increases on average of 3.8 percent.

David Long, the firm’s chairman and CEO, commented: “Net income from continuing operations for the quarter was $590mn, an increase of almost $300mn over the prior year, driven by a milder catastrophe quarter, and continued strong investment results.”

“Growth remains robust, as net written premium increased 7 percent excluding the impact of foreign exchange.”