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Portage Mutual staying optimistic after challenging year 0

By Angela Brown, Portage Daily Graphic

John Mitchell, Portage Mutual Insurance president and CEO, right, is pictured with vice-president and chief operating officer Wayne Wyborn at the Portage Mutual Insurance company's AGM on Thursday... Staff photo by Angela Brown

John Mitchell, Portage Mutual Insurance president and CEO, right, is pictured with vice-president and chief operating officer Wayne Wyborn at the Portage Mutual Insurance company's AGM on Thursday... Staff photo by Angela Brown

While it was a difficult past year on the weather front for many, Portage Mutual Insurance also faced challenges throughout most of 2011.

At the company's 128th annual general meeting at Canad Inns, the president reported it was a tough year for Portage Mutual.

"It was a very rough year, right across the country," said John Mitchell, president and CEO. "I think one of the biggest things because we are mutual, we are consistent. We maintain that consistency.

"I would suggest the year was probably rough because of the frequency of losses," he added. "We know that traditionally the frequency ebbs and flows. We think that it will come back ...We put through slight rate increases where we can. But we are optimistic about the future."

Between the flooding, fires, hail and automobile losses, Mitchell said, "all the perils that can happen did."

In his report, chairman Toby Trimble announced there was an underwriting loss of $15.6 million. The net after- tax loss was $3 million. The earned surplus amount as of Dec 31, 2011, was $115.3 million.

"2011 was another challenging year for the industry and your company," Trimble said during his presentation. "Our combined loss -ratio was 108.6 per cent. While the overall severity of the claims remained consistent with the previous year, the frequency of losses increased by 10 per cent. Underwriting results were negatively affected by water-, wind- and hail -related losses in Manitoba, Saskatchewan and Ontario."

The chair said the intensity of losses from severe weather seems to be increasing across Canada overall.

As well, the decline in interest rates also had a negative impact on the company.

On a positive note, Mitchell says the company maintains many long -term customers.

"There is a reason for that," he said. "We treat them fairly, through the good times and the bad. We are here to pay the claims when they happen."

He says the company remains optimistic about the future despite having a rough year.

See more in Portage Daily Graphic.

angela.brown@sunmedia.ca


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