Oct 18 (Reuters) - Property and casualty insurer Travelers Corp on Thursday reported a third-quarter profit that more than doubled, driven by lower catastrophe losses and an increase in premiums and investment income.
Net premiums written rose 6 percent to $7.06 billion, helped by improved prices coupled with higher levels of retention.
Higher returns from its fixed income and private equity portfolio business helped push investment income by 20 percent to $547 million.
Net of reinsurance, Travelers' catastrophe losses plunged 62.3 percent to $264 million, but still had to incur higher-than-expected losses in September in the aftermath of Hurricane Florence that hit North Carolina, a state where the company has a large presence.
The company's combined ratio fell to 96.6 percent, from 103.2 percent a year earlier. A ratio below 100 percent means the insurer earns more in premiums than it pays out in claims.
Net income rose to $709 million, or $2.62 per share, in the third quarter ended Sept. 30, from $293 million, or $1.05 per share, a year earlier.
The company incurred a $436 million charge from catastrophe losses in the same period last year due to mounting claims arising from hurricanes Irma, Maria and Harvey hitting the United States.
Excluding items, the company earned $2.54 per share.
The Dow component's total revenue rose 5.4 percent to $7.7 billion. (Reporting by Siddharth Cavale in Bengaluru; Editing by James Emmanuel)