Suncorp Group's NZ insurance division lifted first-half profit 81 per cent as the Australian owner of Vero Insurance faced fewer claims in a period when there were no major earthquakes.
After-tax profit rose to $67 million in the six months ended December 31 from $37m a year earlier, Brisbane-based Suncorp said in a statement to the ASX.
The bulk of that came from the general insurance division, which consists of Vero and the AA Insurance joint venture, which more than doubled profit to $50m, as net incurred claims shrank 6.5 per cent to $348m from the year-earlier period which included the Kaikoura earthquake.
Gross written premium rose 7.6 per cent to $768m, with auto and home insurance premiums growing at a double-digit pace.
"The New Zealand general insurance business has maintained strong growth and underlying performance," Suncorp said.
"Natural hazard experience is significantly lower than the prior year's earthquake-affected result."
The result echoes that of larger rival Insurance Australia Group, New Zealand's biggest general insurer, which more than tripled first-half earnings on the absence of earthquake claims.
Suncorp said it's working on a series of initiatives to lift earnings at the New Zealand unit, and will keep focusing on motor claims cost inflation with new pricing and improving claims management processes.
Suncorp's New Zealand life insurance division, the Asteron Life and AA Life joint venture, posted a 5.6 per cent decline in first-half profit to $17m on what it said was "short-term volatility" in claims experience.