Separately, Mr. Benchimol added “Our thoughts and prayers go out to all who suffered the wrath of Superstorm Sandy. We stand ready to respond promptly and professionally to our clients' needs in the aftermath of this highly unusual weather event. It will be some time before the full scope of damage and overall impacts are fully realized. From what we know at this time, this is an earnings event that will not affect our progress.”
Our insurance segment reported gross premiums written of $530 million in the quarter, up 7% from the third quarter of 2011. Growth was driven by a number of lines of business, including liability, professional lines and accident & health. However, this was partially offset by a reduction in property business, driven by the non-renewal of certain catastrophe-exposed business written through managing general agents. Changes in certain of our reinsurance programs on renewal in the second quarter of 2012, as well as business mix changes, drove an increase in the third quarter ceded premium ratio; as a result, net premiums written were comparable to the third quarter of 2011. For the nine months ended September 30, 2012, gross premiums written were $1.7 billion, up 8% from same period of 2011, with growth emanating primarily from our professional lines, accident & health and liability lines of business. Net premiums written increased 5% year to date, with the second quarter reinsurance purchasing changes having a lesser impact. Net premiums earned increased 8% and 11%, respectively, for the third quarter and year to date; recent growth in our accident & health and property businesses were the primary driver of this increase, with professional lines also contributing to the nine-month growth.
Our insurance segment reported underwriting income of $76 million for the quarter, compared to $41 million for the third quarter of 2011. The current quarter’s underwriting result reflected a combined ratio of 81.1%, compared with 89.4% in the prior year quarter. The segment’s current accident year loss ratio decreased from 64.8% in the third quarter of 2011 to 54.6% this quarter, with the difference largely attributable to a reduction in the level of natural catastrophe-related losses. Third quarter 2011 results included aggregate pre-tax net losses of $38 million, or 10.1 points, for Hurricane Irene and Tropical Storm Lee. Comparatively, we recognized aggregate pre-tax net losses of $10 million for Hurricane Isaac and a $5 million reduction in our estimate for second quarter 2012 U.S. weather events during the third quarter of 2012; in aggregate, this contributed 1.2 points to the ratio. Net favorable prior year reserve development was $32 million, or 7.9 points, this quarter compared with $33 million, or 8.8 points, in the third quarter of 2011. For the nine months ended September 30, 2012, we recognized underwriting income of $112 million, compared with $13 million for the first nine months of 2011; the difference was largely attributable to a significantly lower level of natural catastrophe activity.