New York, NY – The Travelers Companies, Inc. recently reported net income of $524 million, or $1.92 per diluted share, for the quarter ended June 30, 2018, compared to $595 million, or $2.11 per diluted share, in the prior year quarter. Core income in the current quarter was $494 million, or $1.81 per diluted share, compared to $543 million, or $1.92 per diluted share, in the prior year quarter. Core income before income taxes decreased primarily due to an increase in catastrophe losses of $85 million, an incremental charge of $45 million associated with a few large commercial losses, primarily fire related, and an $18 million assessment from the Texas Windstorm Insurance Association (TWIA) related to Hurricane Harvey. Core income benefited by $54 million from a lower U.S. corporate income tax rate. Net realized investment gains of $36 million pre-tax ($30 million after-tax) decreased due to lower gains on equity securities. Per diluted share amounts benefited from the impact of share repurchases.
“Second quarter core income was $494 million, down from $543 million in the prior year quarter, due to a $122 million after-tax increase in catastrophe losses resulting from an active tornado and hail season,” said Alan Schnitzer, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer. “Results excluding catastrophe losses were strong, reflecting record net earned premiums and a consolidated underlying combined ratio of 93.6%, with each of our business segments contributing. The underlying combined ratio in Business Insurance was a solid 96.5%. The underlying combined ratio in our Bond & Specialty Insurance business was strong at 80.5%. The underlying combined ratio in Personal Insurance improved to 92.6%, reflecting a 6.9 point improvement in Agency Auto as a result of our actions in recent quarters to increase profitability. The consolidated expense ratio improved by 0.4 points from disciplined top line growth and expense management, along with the successful execution of our productivity initiatives. Our investment portfolio continued to perform well, with income from our fixed income portfolio continuing to increase. Our capital management strategy remains unchanged, and we returned approximately $560 million of excess capital to our shareholders this quarter, including $350 million of share repurchases, bringing the year-to-date total to over $1.15 billion.
“We are pleased with the execution of our marketplace strategies. Net written premiums increased by 7% to a record $7.1 billion. Net written premiums in Business Insurance increased by 7%. This was driven by very strong execution by our domestic field organization, which resulted in renewal premium change that reached 5.3%, its highest level since 2014, while still achieving retention of 85%, consistent with historical highs. The recent establishment of business centers in our Commercial Accounts business contributed to an 8% increase in domestic new business in Business Insurance. In Bond & Specialty Insurance, net written premiums increased by 9%, with strong production across our Management Liability and Surety businesses. In Personal Insurance, net written premiums increased by 8%, benefiting from renewal premium change of 9% in Agency Auto and continued growth in Agency Homeowners.
“Turning to weather more broadly, absent a severe hurricane season, we expect catastrophe losses to be highest in the second quarter. Catastrophe losses were $488 million this quarter, approximately $50 million more than we would have expected, but within the range of normal variability. This follows several recent quarters in which catastrophe losses exceeded our historical experience and expectations. Weather is inherently unpredictable, and accordingly, we take a balanced approach to developing conclusions from what happens in a relatively short period of time. As always, the impact of weather on our business has our full attention, and we will continue to use our leading actuarial expertise and the latest in weather modeling to inform our underwriting and pricing decisions.
“With a strong foundation, an active innovation agenda, superior talent and a track record of successfully managing our businesses for the long term, we remain well positioned to continue to deliver leading returns over time.”
The complete results release is available here: Travelers Q2 2018 Results