Markel Corp. (NYSE:MKL) Q2 2020 Earnings Conference Call - Final Transcript
Jul 29, 2020 • 09:30 am ET
opportunity to listen to many of our associates and hear their voices and stories in new ways. We are listening and learning. I think the difficult conversations are having a very positive effect. We're confronting issues and problems that we haven't faced before in such a head-on way. The honesty and openness is refreshing and I think it gives us all a chance to learn in a new way and to make real progress.
We mean the word to the Markel style. Those words include fairness in all our dealings and providing an atmosphere which people can reach their personal potential. We cite those core beliefs because they are crucial components behind another statement in the style, namely the question, find a better way to do this. Count on our consistent commitment to these ideas.
At this point, I am going to turn to the financial reports in the second quarter. Jeremy, will provide you with an update on the numbers and then Richie will update you on our insurance and insurance-linked securities operations. I will then follow with comments on our investments and ventures operations. After that, we look forward to answering your questions. Jeremy.
Thank you, Tom good morning, everyone. Our underwriting and testing in Markel ventures results for the first half of 2020 were meaningfully impacted by the effect of the COVID-19 pandemic, but encouragingly, we saw positive contributions from each of our three engines during the second quarter.
While COVID-19 has and likely will continue to influence both the asset and liability sides of our balance sheet, our financial condition was strong at the end of the second quarter. We are well positioned to take advantage of opportunities that are being presented in the specialty insurance marketplace.
Looking at our underwriting results, gross written premiums were $3.7 billion for the first half of 2020 compared to $3.3 million in 2019, an increase of 12%. This increase was due almost entirely to our insurance segment, which reported gross written premiums of $3 billion an increase of 16% compared to 2019. This growth related primarily to increased writings within our professional liability, general liability, marine and energy and personal lines product lines.
Gross written premium within our reinsurance segment were as consistent in 2019 at roughly $740 million. Year-to-date retention of gross written premiums held at 84% in both 2020 and 2019. Earned premiums increased 12% to $2.7 million in 2020, primarily due to higher written premium volume in our insurance segment. Our consolidated combined ratio for the first six months of 2020 was a 103% compared to a 95% in 2019.
For the second quarter of 2020, we reported an 88% combined ratio to 95% for the year ago. As we discussed a quarter ago, we recognized $325 million of pretax net losses and loss adjustment expenses during the first quarter for those policies and contrast for COVID-19 was identified as a proximate cause of loss. There were no changes in our loss estimates during the second