UPDATE 1-Italian insurer UnipolSai's first-quarter net profit jumps 46%

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MILAN, May 14 (Reuters) - Italy’s second-largest insurer UnipolSai reported a 46% rise in first-quarter net profit on Friday, lifted by results from its automotive business and higher life insurance premiums.

Consolidated net profit came in at 249 million euros ($300.9 million), also helped by a capital gain from a real estate sale.

Insurance premiums rose 2% to 3.2 billion euros thanks to 10.7% growth in life business.

This more than offset a 9% drop in automotive business owing to weaker market conditions and a campaign launched by insurers to refund a month of car insurance premiums to retail customers affected by coronavirus lockdowns.

However, underlying income benefited from a decline in motor claims as a result of reduced traffic.

UnipolSai’s combined ratio - a measure of profitability for its property and casualty division, its biggest revenue earner - was at 89.1%, improving from 92% a year earlier. Readings below 100% indicate profitability.

The consolidated solvency ratio, a key measure of financial strength, stood at 277% at the end of March, down from 281% at the end of 2020. ($1 = 0.8275 euros) (Reporting by Andrea Mandalà Editing by David Goodman)