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Insurer RSA says poor UK underwriting results hit third quarter

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(Reuters) – RSA Insurance Group Plc <RSA.L> reported on Friday a small rise in net written premiums for the year so far, but said higher weather losses in Britain led to a “disappointing” third quarter.

Britain’s insurers have taken a beating from a run of volatile weather, with the hottest summer in living memory following a blast of icy weather earlier in the year dubbed the “Beast from the East”.

The FTSE 100 firm said its UK and London market business made an underwriting loss of about 70 million pounds in third quarter due to bad weather, large losses and claims.

“Our UK and ‘London market’ business reported an underwriting loss which is disappointing. Actions to improve in the UK are well underway…” Chief Executive Officer Stephen Hester said in a statement.

RSA said its marine portfolio was the hardest hit in the UK.

Icy roads and frozen pipes due to bad weather in Canada and Britain had also hit RSA’s first-half profit.

RSA said its solvency ratio – a closely watched measure of financial strength that measures a company’s ability to meet its obligations – is expected to be around 172 percent, compared with 163 percent at the end of 2017.

The company said group net written premiums had risen about 1 percent year-to-date to 4.9 billion pounds at constant exchange rates, but were down 2 percent at a headline level.

RSA, best known in Britain for its More Than brand, has major businesses in Canada, Ireland and Scandinavia and offers motor, home and pet policies, as well as commercial insurance.

It said its international businesses performed well in the third quarter but higher weather costs led to a lower underlying pretax profit year-to-date.

(Reporting by Muvija M and Noor Zainab Hussian in Bengaluru; Editing by Mark Potter)

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