By Carolyn Cohn
LONDON (Reuters) - British general insurer RSA's posted a 19 percent fall in full-year operating profit to 517 million pounds on Thursday, on the back of high weather-related losses and weakness in commercial underwriting.
Operating profit for the year ending Dec. 31 came in below the 561 million pounds forecast in a company-supplied poll.
Insurers globally have suffered from two years of heavy losses from natural catastrophes such as storms, hurricanes and typhoons, while premium increases across a range of insurance classes have been capped by strong competition.
Underwriting earnings per share dropped to 34.1 pence from 43.5, and underlying return on tangible equity dropped to 12.6 percent from 15.5, below the company's 13-17 percent target range.
RSA said it would pay a total dividend of 21 pence per share, up 7 percent and in line with forecasts.
"At an underlying level..., the results represent RSA's first down year since 2013," Chief Executive Stephen Hester said in a statement. "We believe strongly that 2019 will show a bounce back and are taking decisive action to that end."
RSA, best known in Britain for the More Than insurance brand, also has major businesses in Canada, Ireland and Scandinavia.
The insurer pulled out of several international commercial insurance lines last year.
(Reporting by Carolyn Cohn; editing by Simon Jessop)