Guardian Royal Exchange PLC, one of Britain's major insurance companies, on Wednesday reported a 21 million ($39 million) rise in pretax profit for 1987 to a record 143.8 million ($267.5 million).
Although premiums fell by 70 million in sterling terms to 1.45 billion, they were marignally up in their original currencies. Worldwide underwriting losses were reduced from 80 million to 64 million - their best level since 1983 - with the United States one of only two territories in which GRE made an underwriting profit.U.S. underwriting improved from a 3.9 million loss in 1986 to a 1.2 million profit, largely as a result of what GRE chief executive Peter Dugdale called the company's philosophy of niche marketing.
He said this has resulted in specialization by region, such as the U.S. Midwest and property insurance on the West Coast, and by classes of business, such as marine.
Such specialization, and the reduction in the value of the dollar, contributed to GRE's U.S. premiums falling by 45.5 million last year to 114.8 million, or 8 percent of the group's worldwide premium income.
Like most other U.K. insurers, GRE suffered last year from Britain's
freak hurricane in October. Claims paid by year end as a result of the storm totaled 53 million, with an additional 10 million received so far this year.
Nevertheless, U.K. underwriting losses were halved in 1987 to 11 million on premiums which were almost 22 million greater at 595 million.