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23 May 2013
The lack of major global catastrophes in the first half of the year has boosted Berkshire Hathaway’s insurance operations, which incurred $US1.2 billion ($1.1 billion) in earthquake and other weather-related losses last year.
Berkshire Hathaway’s insurance companies, which include General Re and auto insurer Geico, earned $US619 million ($587 million) underwriting profit for the second quarter, compared to a $US7 million ($6.6 million) underwriting loss for the corresponding period last year.
The insurance operations made a $US673 million ($638 million) underwriting profit for the six months, compared to a $US828 million ($785 million) loss for the same period last year.
“A key marketing strategy followed by all of our insurance businesses is the maintenance of extraordinary capital strength,” Chairman Warren Buffett said.
He says this capital strength allows Berkshire Hathaway’s insurance companies to negotiate and enter into insurance and reinsurance contracts “specially designed to meet the unique needs of insurance and reinsurance buyers”.
General Re’s underwriting profit showed a recovery from last year’s disaster losses, posting a $US219 million ($208 million) profit compared to a loss of $US194 million ($184 million) in the first half of 2011.
However, underwriting profit at auto insurer Geico dipped significantly to $US279 million ($264 million) for the first six months, compared to $US496 million ($470 million) for the corresponding period last year.
Geico has attributed this to higher costs for bodily injury and vehicle damage.
Premiums earned for the entire insurance group for the first six months of 2012 came in at $US18.9 million ($17.9 million), down slightly on the 2011 figure of $US19.1 million ($18.1 million).
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