Italian insurance giant Generali has posted an operating profit of EUR1.3bn ($1.56bn) in the first quarter, up five percent on the back of an improved performance in the property and casualty (P&C) segment.

The carrier posted a combined ratio of 91.4 percent in the first three months of the year – an improvement of 1.6 points – which Generali said was despite booking EUR76mn of cat claims stemming from storms in Germany and France in January. 

Generali booked EUR18.6bn in headline gross written premiums (GWP) in the quarter, an increase of 2.5 percent from the same period in 2017.

The P&C operating profit jumped 14 percent year-on-year to EUR528mn, which the carrier said was due to the performance of the technical result. GWP for the division edged up 1.4 percent to EUR6.22bn.

“The results that we present today highlight the ongoing positive trend in the group’s economic and financial performance, as well as the effective execution of the strategic plan that is being implemented with discipline and determination,” Generali Group chief financial officer, Luigi Lubelli, said in a statement.

“We continue to develop the business and create value as evidenced on one hand, by the growth in premium income, robust Life net cash inflows, and increasing assets under management and on the other, by further improvement in the combined ratio and the life new business margin,” he added.

“The results of the first quarter allow us to look at the rest of the year with optimism as we successfully complete our strategic plan.”