Marine insurance mutual Gard’s annual revenue has topped $1bn for the first time, just as its role as the industry’s dominant player is set to be challenged by the upcoming merger of two of its closest rivals.

For the policy year to 20 February 2022, Gard also reported a post-tax profit of $34m and a profitable combined ratio — which reflects the balance of premium income and claims expenses — of 94%.

That compares to gross premium of $922m, a net profit of $68m and a loss-making combined ratio of 104% in the previous year.

Gard is also returning $19m to members as part of its Owners’ General Discount Scheme.

After the discount has been taken out Gard’s free reserves stand at $1.2bn.

Chief executive Rolf Thore Roppestad said last year that the club had been able to get through a difficult trading environment for protection and indemnity clubs, which have been hit by a series of costly claims.

The club generates additional revenue from marine and energy business lines.

“2021 was a challenging year for the P&I mutual book with pool claims a significant part of that,” Roppestad said.

Robust profit

“However, strong results from fixed price P&I and our marine and energy book meant that overall, the group could return a robust profit. We have taken steps over the last several years to ensure that mutual P&I is priced correctly for the changing claims environment and, despite the losses incurred this year, we are confident we are now achieving that balance,” he added.

Gard has an S&P Global Ratings A+ rating with a stable outlook.

The club has also provided figures on its environmental, social and governance performance in its end-of-year figures.

Gard is by far the largest member of the International Group of P&I Clubs. Its dominant position is just about to face a challenge from the proposed merger of North P&I Club and the Standard Club.

The two clubs are asking shipowner members to approve the merger at an end of May vote.

They will have a combined premium income in excess of $700m and free reserves of more than $800m.

Meanwhile, Oslo-based P&I insurer Skuld has reported a $15m loss for the policy year to 20 February 2022, compared to a $25m profit in the previous year, as investment returns could not cover its underwriting deficit.

Skuld’s underwriting activities registered a $30m loss in the 2021/2022 period. Its combined ratio — which reflects the balance of premium income and claims costs — was 107%, an improvement on the 108% reported in the previous term.

In its 2020/2021 financial return, the mutual leaned on a healthy investment income return of 9.8% to help cover underwriting losses.

In the latest policy year, Skuld said its investment return was negative.

As a result of the losses, Skuld’s contingency reserve stood at $430m at the end of the 2021/2022 year, compared with $459m at the end of the previous term. Its financial reserves remain well within capital solvency requirements.