IAG lifts FY guidance on margins

Insurance margins to come in sharply higher on reduced natural disaster payouts.

Insurance Australia Group Ltd has lifted its full-year guidance on insurance margins sharply, after paying out less than expected for natural disasters.

The group said it expected to post an insurance margin of between 16.8% and 17.2% for the year to June, well above previous guidance of 12.5% to 14.5%.

Net earned premium for the year was expected to come in at about $8.3 billion.

IAG chief executive officer Mike Wilkins said the group was "favourably impacted by natural peril, reserve release and credit spread outcomes".

“Compared to our previously held assumptions, these factors have caused the group’s insurance margin to exceed our earlier guidance."

IAG also revised growth guidance on its gross written premiums to 11.8% for 2012-13, from its previous range of 9.5% to 11.5%.

It expected to book a net natural disaster claim expense of around $470 million, compared to a guidance assumption of $620 million.

Credit spread impact would be $110 million, ahead of a guidance assumption of $90 million.

IAG reiterated that it would pay a full-year dividend equal to between 50 and 70% of net profit in the year.

The group will release its 2012-13 results on 22 August.